Country or Nation-branding is not a term liked by many in the International Relations community. Many decision-makers left aside for many years those “marketing campaigns” that equalized sovereign countries with commercial trademarks. Does
Japan need a brand to compete against ? Or Toyota
needs a logo to compete against Samsung? Isn’t South Korea a middle power recognized
for its culture, its mariachis and tequila? Does it need a new brand?! Mexico
However, most countries have realized that branding it is not only about having a commercial logo or a catchy slogan. Peter van Ham, in “Social Power in International Relations,” makes a good effort to explain how country’s leaders have ended up to accept that since every country has a brand, it is better to invest in a good campaign instead of becoming silent in a competitive world.
Image and reputation are parts of the brand, but it is Simon Anholt who has developed a complex hexagon with areas that should be analyzed in order to build up a nation-brand. Future Brand, a consultant firm specialized in branding has also developed its Country Brand Index following a few indicators, which are essentially the same as Anholt’s: culture, people, investment environment, exports, tourism, and governance.
It is true that country or place branding is limited and it does not provide all the possibilities of Public Diplomacy, especially the possibility to interact with others. Nevertheless, it has become a must for every country and a more accepted term nowadays. The question now relies in whether in a world where everyone is investing in its own brand, a small or middle power can really make a difference – i.e. how to successfully exploit those advantages that should help a country to differentiate and construct a comparative advantage. I am thinking in those available “natural” resources that a country is blessed with like
soccer player and Carnival’s garotas; Argentina’s
Leo Messi; or Peru’s . But I am
also thinking in those created products such as Machu Picchu Korea’s
“telenovelas” and ’s
Bollywood films. India
Public Diplomacy is certainly more complex and rich than country branding, because it implies a real engagement with other countries and cultures, although some strategies of country-branding can boost Public Diplomacy efforts when carefully considered. The issue at stake will always be how to establish a credible image.
is a good example of a country that is investing a lot in country branding
in order to reestablish its reputation as a friendly country after many years
of continuous violence. Unfortunately, the best country brand campaign will not
help to clean the blood in Mexico - not the next President nor the Virgen of
Guadalupe, are capable of those miracles. Ciudad