How To Use Your Country Brand

28 May, 2015 Share socially

Considered by many as the ultimate expression of a brand, a country brand should ideally reflect the nation’s essence, the key differential factor that plays the role of the national fleet’s flagship vessel, ready to point to where the next destination is in the journey of a country for winning international recognition. And continuing with the metaphor, by destination I mean markets for our products, groups of tourists eager to come and visit our beautiful geographies, communities of investors with the desire to get the best possible returns for their dollars, among others.

Having said that, there is no doubt that to have a recognizable national identity is a very suitable and aspirational goal, and that most of the inhabitants of a country would become unconditional supporters of such an endeavor.

But are governments’ officers aware of the potential of the tool they could have in their hands? And are they also conscious of the responsibility that being in charge of a country brand represent, either internally or externally?

To get a Country Brand (with capital letters) is generally the consequence of a long and thorough process that involves many different stages, and where different (and sometime disparate) bodies need to coordinate among themselves to achieve the expected result. There are different kinds of organizations behind country branding management: agencies, ministries, committees, foundations, national boards, etc., either fully state owned or involving private equity.

But public opinion will always be watching what is the use these organizations make of the money previously given to them.

In any case, there is an investment, and as such, an expected return over a specific period of time. And here’s the challenge: how do countries take the best possible advantage of such an investment? The answer pops out immediately: respecting what country brand programs specify as the road to success. But what could sound obvious is not necessarily the common reality. In many cases, aligning communications towards a higher purpose could be understood as abandoning what has been done along many years in specific sectors. In some occasions these decisions could even affect personal long-time efforts as well.

The solution is the right balance. Country brands managers must listen to all involved parties’ needs. These parties can generally be grouped in three categories: tourism promotion, exports promotion and investment attraction. Knowing their needs is key to conduct a right and comprehensive communications program. What must be borne in mind is that to achieve international awareness it is key

to have a differential positioning, a unique tone of voice, because our world has many countries, each one trying to communicate similar concepts.

FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index demonstrates year after year that highest awareness levels belong only to those countries with a solid and distinctive message, recognized by widespread audiences. And in most of cases, that’s the result of a serious work of country brand managers who perfectly know how to use the tool they have in their hands.