Our focus today is nation-branding, which, for the purposes of this blog post, refers to strategic efforts to define a country's image for foreign audiences. Please note that the objectives of nation-branding are not necessarily related to achieving foreign policy objectives, and are frequently related to attracting tourists or foreign developers. According to Mathias Akotia, CEO of the Brand Ghana Office, a brand is "a country’s identity that has been proactively distilled, interpreted, internalized and projected internationally in order to gain international recognition and to construct a favorable national image. A country brand strategy therefore is a plan for defining the most realistic, most competitive and most compelling strategic vision for the country."
Like college freshmen who dream of ditching their high school nicknames and starting anew, countries around the world are working to redefine themselves. So what countries are taking a stab at being BMOC, and how are they doing it?
Abu Dhabi: Fast cars and loose planning characterize the nation’s push for greater prominence. But skepticism remains about its ability to pull off the essential infrastructure- and recognition-building efforts.
Australia: Malcolm Long argues that nation-branding efforts in Australia are both essential to its success and poorly coordinated. Better cohesion could improve its economic and diplomatic outlook.
France: Many of you have already seen this article on the French government's efforts to export French culture to foreign audiences. According to the article, France spends about $1.4 billion every year on cultural and linguistic diplomacy. Ooh la la!
Kosovo: Time magazine describes a government decision to hire an advertising firm to re-brand the nation as a land of hot, young Europeans -- a sort of Baywatch for the Balkans. But the campaign is generating heat within Kosovo's own borders from young Kosovans who resent what they see as an inaccurate depiction.
And on a lighter note, the following were coined in response to a 2008 Washington Post contest to come up with humorous nation branding slogans.
- Austria: No Kangaroos (John Alvey)
- China: Come Visit Your Money (Ira Allen)
- Greenland: Site of the 2060 Summer Olympics (J. Larry Schott; Elwood Fitzner)
- Iran: World's Largest Non-American Theocracy (Ira Allen)
- Tajikistan: Stan of Opportunity (Cy Gardner)
And my personal favorite:
- England: Lie Back and Think of Us (Tom Murphy)
Full list available here.