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How ‘nation branding’ works to turn a country’s image around

Published November 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm

There’s a sad truth that stereotypes will probably always persist, especially when it comes to specific countries. Despite all of the many different complexities that make up the population of any given nation, mention France and you’ll still probably think: Eiffel Tower, croissants, berets, and accordion music. For Spain, it might be bullfighters and early dinners.

But while some of these associations are inevitable, the images that come up when you think of a certain place are important and carry significant power. A recent story in Marketplace quoted journalism professor Melissa Melissa Aronczyk on how Germany, for example, launched an initiative to try to rebrand itself as a business-friendly nation years ago.

“They developed this fantastic set of billboards featuring [model] Claudia Schiffer—draped in little more than the German flag—inviting investors to come to Germany and invest,” Aronczyk told the source. Whether or not such images end up standing the test of time, the mere contrast between what they display and what the audience might have previously been thinking of could be enough to renew interest.

A more detailed look into how this sort of marketing strategy could work on a grand scale may be seen in a recent opinion piece from the Zimbabwe Herald. According to author and motivational speaker Nyaradzo Mavindidze, that country is also in need of a new image to fit the increased expectations the country has for its success. As Mavindidtze says, handled the right way, rebranding can “[have a] global impact, helping to promote trade, investment and tourism.”

Rebranded countries and companies both need a little help crafting a narrative and projecting that story out to the masses. And while it may take some fumbles to get there, it might be worth it to help steer things into the right direction.

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