Nation Branding Lab


Category: Nation Branding

World’s 50 Most Innovative Countries

south korea

South Korea surprised many by being ranked at the second in the Global Innovation Index
(Image Courtesy of Bloomberg | Photograph by Getty Images)

Bloomberg Businessweek published an index of 50 Most Innovative Countries in the world. The Bloomberg ranked these countries using 7 factors: R&D intensity (20 percent), productivity (20 percent), high-tech density (20 percent), researcher concentration (20 percent), manufacturing capability (10 percent), education levels (5 percent) and patent activity (5 percent).

The top 10 countries on Bloomberg Businessweek’s Global Innovation Index are 1. United States  2. South Korea  3. Germany  4. Finland  5. Sweden  6. Japan  7. Singapore  8. Austria  9. Denmark  10. France.

Brand Romania

Romania is on par with Australia, New Zealand, and Maldives when it comes to ‘natural beauty’. Countries like this have an edge in tourism marketing because they are already strongly associated with impressive images that tourists admire. Despite this huge advantage, however, Romania’s brand has failed in 2012 both in terms of visual and political communication.

Political corruption and crisis

In 2012, Romania’s international reputation suffered due to President’s impeachment followed by the government’s abuse of power and attempts to subvert the country’s nascent democracy. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s sentence for corruption and his failed suicide attempt contributed to the political instability, which even left neighboring European nations concerned and question whether Romania is going to be the next Hungary.


Image courtesy of The Economist: Romania’s former prime minister underwent a surgery after a failed suicide attempt

Logo and tagline

Romania’s Ministry of Tourism had decided to go green since a few years ago, and they are still using the same logo until now. Unfortunately, the logo doesn’t give any hint that Romania is a country of high mountains, Dracula or beautiful castles, but of a jungle or lush landscape. The logo looks like it must have been a logo of Madagascar, Bahamas, or Fiji. Moreover, reading the tagline, “explore the Carpathian garden”, I wonder what other way there could have benn to make the Carpathian Mountains sound so far from wild, exotic, historical, and scenic. With these logo and tagline, tourists can never envision Romania’s rich culture and impressive vistas.


Image courtesy of the Romanian National Tourist Office website

To me, a new logo seems to be a necessity, but this is not what Romania needs to focus on at the moment. Instead, what it needs to do first is to show the world that it has the capability to generate a dialogue between the government and its people, making healthy policy changes that uphold meaningful values such as democracy. Through the rule of law, Romania must reflect the nation’s concern for the individual rights, principle of justice, tolerance for positive changes, and political stability, which is time-consuming and difficult. However, this symbolic and transparent gesture is the only shortcut that will help Romania succeed in communicating with the world audience what the nation and its people are all about and in successfully branding itself in the long-term.

Wally Olins on Spain’s Nation Brand

Branding guru Wally Olins, Chairman and Co-founder of Saffron Brand Consultants, talks about Spain’s nation brand and nation branding in a globalized world at IE School of Communication.

Olins discusses Spain’s international brand identity as the nation is currently known for its economic difficulty. Overall, he is very optimistic about the prospects of Spain’s nation brand.  According to Olins, considering Spain’s significant achievements in the past, personality, and a clear sense of direction as a nation, Spain’s situation is not as disastrous as many people think.

I second his optimistic view. When a person goes through an economic difficulty mostly due to any uncontrollable factor, it is not the trouble that affects people’s perceptions of that person in a profound way, but how the person responds to the crisis. Same goes with nations. It is the government’s, citizens’, and corporations’ actions during the struggle that are presented to the world. Take South Korea for example. When the nation faced IMF financial crisis back in 1998, there was a public campaign where numerous Koreans sacrificed their gold, including housewives who gave up  wedding rings, and athletes, gold medals. In the first two days of the campaign, ten tons of gold were collected. Now, Koreans are known for their spirit of self-sacrifice and strong willingness to work together to face difficulties. South Korea has become a model nation for many countries during the global recession.

As demonstrated by many of Spain’s achievements that made the nation an admired, influential figure in many different fields over the past couple of decades, Spain is a passionate nation. It will take some time, but there is no reason why Spain will not be able to recover from the crisis. I would even say that Spain will eventually be able to add persistence and trustworthiness to their identity in the near future.

Ido Aharoni on Israel’s Nation Branding

Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul General to New York, talks on Knowledge@Wharton about Israel’s nation branding. Watch the full video clip to hear his excellent insights and experience of positioning Israel.

Israel’s brand used to be a producer of conflicts and bad news. When the challenge was defined,  instead of trying to win a debate about an issue, he thought Israel should focus on building a relationship that is meaningful to both the country and consumers by broadening the conversation beyond conflicts and finding ways through research to better communicate Israel’s assets such as creative spirit and innovation.

His long-term effort demonstrates what he believes to take to position a place or a nation: the ability to identify your own competitive edge and to communicate that competitive edge to relevant audience.

During the interview, he names the city of New York, Spain, and Croatia as very successful place positioning efforts. Also, he believes that self-congratulatory messages as one of the least effective strategy in place positioning.

Should Nations Be Using Digital Asset Management Software?

by Ewan MacDougal (guest writer)

In 2003 Thailand launched the “Global Thai” public diplomacy initiative where it sought to boost it’s nation brand by taking a lead in setting up Thai restaurants around the world.  What if this was taken further, hypothetically what if all these restaurants started to look like a franchise with the same layout, same menus and same greeting from the staff?  Then extend this further so that other businesses that operated under the “Thai banner” felt the same, you could get a Thai massage from a parlour that has the same logo as the restaurant the same incense smell and the same colour scheme, extend this to clothing shops and even local markets in the areas where the diasporas shop and all of a sudden visitors to these shops start to believe that what they are visiting is what Thailand is.  If the Thai government could control this brand then they would have taken a lot of ground in their effort to brand the nation.

The problem is there are thousands of these businesses all over the world which operate under a flag, and for the most part each one is operated completely independently, if nation branders want to be able to brand these they may need to borrow yet trick from marketers in big business.  The most successful businesses understood the importance of taking control of how their brand was perceived long before Anholt talked about Nation Branding.  Today these same big businesses have come to rely upon digital asset management software.

Successful businesses like to portray themselves as having a single personality which oozes out of every public face through the style of writing, types of images used fonts and colour schemes.  This corporate style has proved hugely successful at creating brand loyalty and get customers to return again and again.  The bigger a company gets the harder it is to manage this brand, so DAM software seeks to make this easier by putting all the fonts, layout templates and instructions online so anyone internal or external can produce a message that people will recognise.

So should countries start creating a database of layouts fonts and house styles for Diasporas around the world?  On the positive side a well protected brand can really benefit the business owners who could find that there shop benefits from the brands reputation with plenty of repeat business coming their way.  Governments will benefit from being able to have a very direct impact on some of their most influential brand ambassadors.

However nations are far more complex than businesses, if you try and simplify it’s whole brand into one personality you risk losing all the other details that make up a country, people start expecting the country to only be what they’ve expected from the brand and you end up with the hyper real where a country has to start imitating it’s brand.

Nation branders have always struggled when too many aspects of a country have tried to give off separate and conflicting messages, looking at digital asset management could really help nations control this, but where as in business the ultimate aim might be to condense a brand down to one familiar personality nations will benefit more by celebrating their wide ranging voices.

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