We are going to analyze nation branding in a broader perspective; we need to consider the following key points that will help the idea of nation branding get more and more understandable. First, how do we gauge the strengths of nation branding? How big is the field? What are the states doing specifically to improve their image? Has the branding idea been successful in any way? Finally, does nation branding have any effect on foreign policy?
How big is the field?
Over the last few years, countries have shown interest in nation branding and seen in the academic areas where, numerous researches are being conducted on the subject. It is very difficult to measure the extent at which nation branding has occurred in a given country; this is because nobody is ready to come out publicly and say that they have a contract on the matter. Not to mention, even the charges they get from their clients for that case. If one includes activities such as tourism advertisements and communications in your definition of nation branding, then the whole idea become much difficult to know how greater it is. It is important to note that there are firms that are dealing with these branding activities and, countries are today sub-contracting them or rather approaching them to come up with a good branding image that would sell. Today, the amount that countries are investing in nation branding alone is astonishing though the firms are very much reluctant in mentioning the exact figures. But one thing is sure of, is that they are a substantial amount of money. Although, the amount spent on such campaigns may be lower than those devoted to individual products such as motors and pharmaceuticals, it is very clear that the figures are on the rise for the respective countries. It makes it more cumbersome to know precisely the extent of nation branding.
On the same note, it would be prudent to mention that countries are today embracing the idea, as they see its positive gains. However, it goes unnoticed in many nations the extent of nation branding, just because the idea spread amongst various ministries or rather departments. Coming up with a single branding policy for the country is becoming increasing important. Finally, there are firms out there concerned mainly with the subject of nation branding and even city branding.They would make everything possible to make your state or city a destination where everyone wants to be one. If done perfectly, chances are many things would change a great deal, for instance, how other people think about your country and, even how one views other nations.
Gauging or rather measuring the strengths of nation branding
The national branding index of any given country is something that is currently being done by a firm called the Global Market Insite. And, it is the body that now gives the relative figures and the strengths of branding. They conduct the research to the extent of branding in more than thirty countries, more so, those that are developed and obtain the way they view each others image. A study, which is done mostly after every three months, nation branding can be divided into the different aspect that includes; people, culture, governance, tourism, exports and finally immigration and investments. These various categories give the general index of how the country brands. The firm asks questions in these areas, and a conclusive numerical data obtained. The aim of such questions is just to give the public opinion of the nation in question and thus, how the world views it. However, some researchers have argued over time that the method that has been used is considerably weak. The poll method would not comprehensively cover all aspects of the nation and the way the rest of the globe would view the country. However, nothing much has been done, they have recommended that areas such as tourism could be used effectively to come up with a concrete result.
How are the countries improving their national branding?
Today, many countries are working closely with communications and public relations firms, to help them come up with the best possible branding method. Which, also only depends on the type of campaign that the nation would wish to have. Some campaigns may not purposely attract people to the country, but to encourage the countrys export to the global market. A company could also be a nations gateway to the rest of the world for example. Microsoft Company has given the United States that positive brand as a country that could be relied upon when it comes to technological equipment.Germany is today, known as the manufacturer of quality vehicles such Mercedes Benz and the BMWs, (Joseph, 2014) and, finally Finland is getting that global recognition because of Nokia.
Some other countries are also indulging in what we call today investment branding where, they promote their little incentives such as tax, their right infrastructure just to attract investment to their countries. Others have even reduced the charges that are supposed by foreign investors just in a bid to attract them. Through this, they can sell that image to the rest of the world as a nation with a favorable business environment and thus attract more investors. Finally, some have decided to promote their financial markets, how strong they are just also to get more investors.
The focus is different amongst the nations, for example, some countries have decided to focus on tourism while others are concentrating solely on the heritage and culture of their people. Many countries have benefited tremendously from the tourism industry, and it can be said to be one of the sectors that are helping countries a great deal. A good example would be Australia, which the branding index recently rated as the strongest, has gained much through the tourism industry. It is, therefore; very critical for each nation to come up with something that would benefit them positively and market them more to the world.
It is also paramount to check how the branding by each nation is failing or rather how successful it is.
The success of any branding mechanism used in any given country would depend on some factors, but the quality of the product that is to be marketed must be exquisite. We have very many cases of successful stories of nations that have benefited from nation branding. For example, Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Britain, launched a campaign that he termed Cool Britannia, which was meant to market the nation as a tourist destination to the rest of the world. Also naming of Britain instead of the Great Britain, which rather had an adverse image of a country, which is old-fashioned. After the breakaways of Croatia and Slovenia, the two countries embarked on a rigorous campaign that would market them as good tourist destination points, something that they achieved. Today, these countries are attracting millions of tourist every year; thanks to the good branding image, they created (Chen, 2010).
However, one would agree with me that not all the time that these campaigns would yield positive result immediately. Some do not even see the benefits while others would have to wait longer for them to see how the nation branding idea works. Switzerland for example, has been working tirelessly to come up with a good image for the country (Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2012). But, they have never achieved this, probably because of the accusations that they were holding Nazi gold in their bank accounts. Belgium is also another country that that gave up on the branding issue after seeing no benefits immediately. Researchers say that for the benefits of nation branding to be seen, any particular country must have patience.
There are other factors too that may make the whole idea of nation branding fail. A study steered on the subject matter shows that, the success of this whole idea, depends upon the existence of a close collaboration between the government, and other stakeholders in the country. The governments need to have individuals that they trust and thus coordinate the working of the various ministries effectively, ensure that they achieve their ultimate goals and objectives. Unless made, the real importance of nation branding will not be seen or felt. If for instance, you have the heritage ministry giving an entirely different statement about the country from that one that is said by the tourism ministry.And, the country itself has diplomatic issues with her neighbors, then chances are, in any campaign the nation stands to lose rather than gain they would have. It is very vivid that each sector is sending out a different picture of the country, and even the state itself is showing the exact opposite, from what it is trying to achieve.
Does nation branding have any effect on the foreign policy of a given country?
No country should just sit and wait for them to be told what to do, but they should rather seek for advice, implement them effectively, and be patient for the results. The issue of over-reliance on consulting company and the idea of them waiting to be told on what exactly they ought to do will do no country any good. It is good for every nation to analyze the policies that any consulting firm has given them before implementing them, what if it backfires, or what if it is not exactly what the country needs. The issues of holding the consultancy firms accountable yet these are disputes that could have been solved by the concerned states are something that is not entirely acceptable. One should take note that, countries make investments in these campaigns (Teemu Moilanen, 2008), some even at the expense of developing other projects; therefore caution should be very key in undertaking such measures. These firms take millions of cash; the returns should be even better.
There are more to gain by those who have embraced the aspect of nation branding than those who have not or are yet to do so. The smaller and unrecognized country can get that global recognition if they take the issue of nation branding seriously and with caution it requires. It could be their way of conversing with the world, marketing their products because trust me these countries do have some quality products and services too. A country like Ghana in western parts of Africa, known for his vibrant music and art, and through such, they do have the capability of getting that global recognition. They would in turn benefit more as the influx of tourist would be colossal and, consequently the economy gets even better. Finally, with the current advancements in the technological world, any country has a chance of bettering any service its offering and thus reaches the global marketplace more efficiently. Nation branding do have that effect on the foreign policy for any state and, therefore, it would be of the best interest of all parties involved to take it very seriously (Go & Govers, 2012).
Nation branding has so many things to offer a country that has implemented the policies very well. It may be very difficult to know the exact area of nation branding, but its effects would be felt. The strengths that it has are something that cannot just be discussed but would be seen by everyone. There are ways that are already in place to improve this policy, but if more research were to be done, and more methods are invented, and then it would be for the benefit of all. It is an area that holds the economy of any given nation in one way or another (Dinnie, 2010). Therefore, the country through its administration should encourage more studies in the area. It would be better if it were incorporated in the curriculum of institutions because more would be learned and obtained there. The success of any active campaigns...
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