Artikel i tidskriften Place Branding

Artikel i tidskriften Place Branding

When Estonia and Tanzania started Nation Branding projects something had happend. And if you think about it: Who would need a branding program more than a newly liberated democracy, not very wellknown to the world and a developing nation struck with sterotypes. They both, in different ways have to tell the world of the advantages of theire countries.

Obviousely the nation branding business is growing. It is heading to ? everywhere.

Globalisation implies of course that all states are in competition with one another. Individual states therefore need both to dress their national brands with the right associations and to combine their product brands with the image of the county of origin. Comming from the land of IKEA I have no difficulty understanding the importance of company trademarks for the development of a nation brand. I remember the headline on a tourist feature in New York Times about Helsinki: The Capital of Nokia. Sometimes a product brand can grow bigger than its country.

The close relation between nations and the big national commercial brands is a new development.

In the globalised market, differences between countries are reduced. We have to seek what distinguishes us in things eternal. This is why Sweden, for instance, makes such frequent reference to nature and history. History, though, may attract the odd tourist or researcher ? but seldom people facing decisions on where to live or invest.

Perhaps this is why place branding now is moving into the realm of values. If we can show that our country has decent values and a balanced and fair society free from corruption, this is an argument in favour of the place. Look at New York, where I lived for six years. The decline of crime is now one of the arguments for New York. I is a place where your kids can walk to school or be out late in the night.

Sometimes, the public diplomacy agenda becomes a part of the branding process. When we at the Swedish Institute stage exhibitions promoting children?s rights or gender equality, this is designed not only to reinforce the Swedish diplomatic line or the knowledge of Swedish society but also to send out the message ?Swedish values?.

And maybe we can also link one of our main sales arguments ? our open, accessible nature ? to the more abstract value of a transparent society, open to all.

So where is place branding moving today? To all countries, together with the commercial brands and to the value system.

Olle Wästberg

Director General, The Swedish Institute