What is Nation Branding?


Nation branding as academia is a young and niche and emerging area. Nation branding is a marketing and branding exercise carried out by governments in order to market their countries overseas and develop their country brand value/ country image. And subsequently yield gains in tourism, Foreign Direct Investment, Exports etc. Nation branding as a subject is considered to be a subcategory of branding under marketing. However, nation branding actually as a field is multi-layered and complex, consisting intangible functionalities or several other fields such as international relations, politics, economics, sociology, tourism, and off-course a large portion of marketing.  Descriptions

Being a young and complex field, there is no single definition agreed upon by the scholars. The various definition of nation branding come through various contexts and perspectives. Also, the resources, literature and research on nation branding is having limited availability.

Dinnie ( 2008) defines nation brands as “the unique, multi-dimensional blend of elements that provide the nation with culturally grounded differentiation and relevance for all its target audiences. In the same light, nation branding is understood as the process of employing publicity and marketing to promote selected images of a geographical location. ( Gold & Ward, 1994). The purpose of both nation brands and nation branding is to ensure a favorable with the target audience. ( Anholt S, 2007; Bell C , 2005, Dinnie K , 2008).  The most telling description of nation branding from a technical-economic perspective from Simon Anholt, who is considered the most prolific author on the subject (Kaneva, 2011).In his view, nation branding is really a metaphor for how effectively countries compete with each other for a favorable perception, be it with regard to exports, governance, tourist, investment and immigration , culture and heritage, or people ( Anholt, 2007)  One other interesting definition from Volcic and Andrejevic (2011, p599) points out that “in the era of capitalist globalization, branding and commercial competition can easily become a continuation of warfare by other means” Nation branding from a political perspective is seen as a coordinated government efforts to manage a country’s image in order to promote tourism, investments and foreign relations. (Volcic & Andrejevic, 2001)  Nation branding exercises

Several countries in the world are currently establishing nation branding exercise or committees to bring the nation branding into action. Some countries carry precisely marketing communication campaigns, while some create an all-rounder nation branding campaign consisting of events, road shows, celebrity endorsements etc. All the nation branding exercises of various governments have different goals such as increasing tourism, increasing exports/business, rectifying a negative image, increase political power etc. However, overall the goal is to sow seeds which will help to increase the economy and perception of the country. Therefore, nation branding/ rebranding a country and to yield the benefits is a long-term exercise. 

Nation branding boards

Some countries create nation branding boards which carry the responsibility to plan and implement the branding exercises. Nation branding boards are similar to think tanks in the context of functionality. These boards consist of 33 % of politicians, 33% of bureaucrats, and 33% of experts from the corporate world. The committee works together with other departments of the government may it be ministry of economics, ministry of tourism, ministry of human recourse, and also sub governmental bodies such as the police force, municipal bodies, cleanliness bodies, healthcare bodies etc.

One such interesting nation branding board is of Finland, where the government has assigned goals to each individual and group involved and made the interdepartmental activities transparent. One other interesting nation branding Board is of South Korea which have involved experts from corporate world including Samsung’s CEO. 

The role of nation branding

Role of nation branding in the future is perceived to be crucial. In the era of global competition, where countries are competing with each other in the spheres of production, service production, trading, exports, investments, human capital, etc, the role of marketing a country as a destination to visit and to operate a business is bound to increase.

Other factors which play a role in the whole global business process are immigration and country-of-origin effect. The two factors are directly affected by the brand value of a country. Country’s try to attract skilful human resource according to the structural, demographical and market need of the country. For example, Germany attempting to attract younger human recourse, USA attracting techies, UK attracting Medical professionals, manual workers in the Middle Eastern countries etc.  On the other hand, countries also have noticed their ability to yield profits by their country-of-origin effect. Country-of-origin effect is an effect on the product by the label of its country of manufacturing. Certain products are deemed to be of superior quality if they are from a specific country, such as Bags and Clothing’s from Italy, Automobiles from Germany, food from France, electronics from Japan, vodka from Russia or may it be a watch from Switzerland. 


Therefore, the role of culture and the role of government for shaping an image of the country can be argued. While certain qualities are contributed by the culture such as Hollywood has contributed to USA’s nation brand, certain developments can be created by the government such as VisitEngland campaign government of UK.

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