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The Potential Dangers and Benefits of Nation Branding

by on March 25, 2012

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Simon Anholt first coined the term “nation branding” in 1996.

 

Nation branding, a concept first put forth by Simon Anholt in 1996 (Anholt, 2010, 3) and which soon proved to have an immense impact on the way in which states sought to control their image, means “applying corporate branding techniques to countries” (www.cfr.org.)

Anholt’s thesis presented governments with the idea that it indeed was possible to brand states as if they were products. In this way, states began hiring public relations companies to create branding campaigns, hereby seeking to portray a positive image of themselves, arguably as a response to globalisation which indeed offers governments merely little control over the information which is broadcast to the word about their respective nations, in order to appeal to foreign audiences and attract foreign investment and tourism as well as increase trade levels (www.cfr.org and http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com.)

However, Anholt argues that his original theory and conception of nation branding soon was misinterpreted and distorted and with this became potentially dangerous. In this way, he now warns that governments may turn to nation branding and marketing strategies in order to cover up issues caused by poor policies. Furthermore, Anholt regrets that states may prioritise nation branding efforts ahead of investing in economic development (Anholt, 2010, 1-3, http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com and http://www.cfr.org.)

Nonetheless, one may put forth the argument that nation branding has the potential to bring smaller, less developed and less wealthy states onto the international stage and into the international spotlight. Nation branding may offer these states an opportunity to present their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, to the world. With this, one may put forth the examples of Slovenia and Croatia, both of which utilised, arguably very successful, nation branding campaigns following their secessions from Yugoslavia, in order to create positive national images and establish themselves as attractive tourist destinations (www.cfr.org.)          

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Over the past decade, states have increasingly utilised nation branding and marketing strategies in order to appear attractive to foreign audiences, hereby attracting foreign investment and tourism as well as increasing trade levels.

 

Bibliography:

Anholt, S. (2010), Places – Identity, Image and Reputation, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.   

 

Nation Branding Explained (2007), Council on Foreign Relations, accessed 19th March 2012.

http://www.cfr.org/information-and-communication/nation-branding-explained/p14776

 

Why ‘Nation Branding’ Doesn’t Exist (2010), The Economic Times, accessed 19th March 2012.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-04-14/news/27613800_1_nation-brand-companies-and-products-countries

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2 Comments
  1. I absolutely agree that nation branding has the potential to bring smaller, less developed and less wealthy states onto the international stage and into the international spotlight. In my opinion, a successful nation branding campaign requires less financial and human resources than public diplomacy does . Therefore , nation branding may be a perfect choice for smaller and less wealthy states.
    You mentioned Slovenia and Croatia but I think nation branding would also be especially useful for more developed African states. I have noticed that many people generally associates the continent of Africa with poverty, diseases, genocide,etc… Tthe majority of people does not understand that Africa is a diverse continent , which means that , for example, the problems of Rwanda should not be applied to Bostwana. Thus for a small but developed enough country as Bostwana the nation branding campaign would help to create a positive image, to attract more investment and to continue its development.

  2. Thank you for this nice short entry which clearly articulates Anholt’s concerns about the monster he created. When you come to revisit it towards the end of the module for consideration for inclusion in your seminar log, perhaps you could develop some of your points in a little more depth. For example, how can smaller and developing states use nation branding to their advantage? I would like a bit more detail and explanation. Nonetheless, a good, clear account.

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