Principles of branding apply in equal measure to countries as they do to corporations. But methods are different. Countries will compete daily with neighbors or block regions for tourism, inward investment and export sales. Thereâ€™s only so much business that can go around. Those countries that start with an unknown or poor reputation will be limited or marginalized. They cannot easily boost their commercial success. Consequently, they will often languish at the bottom |of the ladder of influence. No voice or even worse, they are the butt of jokers at every regional summit.
With toursim as the world’s second largest industry, and countries spending more to promote themselves, their product and their assets, FutureBrand feels it is time to look at countries in a whole new way – as brands. Since I presented here the 2005 Country Brand Index, is time now the 2006 Top 10 (number in brackets are representing last year standings): Continue reading
Mary Foley, author of Bodacious: An AOL Insider Cracks the Code to Outrageous Success for Women, has an interesting list of 5 key lessons she learned about branding while working at AOL:
- Every company has a brand. The question is, “Is it working for you?” Creating a brand isn’t just for the big companies; it’s for companies of all sizes.
- Your brand must evoke a strong emotion. Customers buy from emotion and back it up with their head.
- Your brand isn’t a logo. It’s everything you offer, say, and do.
- Â Your brand needs constant tweaking. You have to start somewhere. So, you launch your company and brand, see what works, and you keep adjusting. What ultimately matters is what the customer thinks and feels.
Okay, I skipped the 4th point, I’ll let you (ladies) go to the original post and find it.
Quite a discussion is taking place on several blogs on the matter of branding and authenticity.
Starting with William Arruda on his excellent Personal Branding blog:
All successful branding is based in authenticity – that is – what’s true and genuine and unique about you. Brands are uncovered, not fabricated. The myth that branding is about spin or packaging and image management needs to be replaced by the truth that “you can’t be someone you are not.”
More on Bobby Lehew in Your Brand – Authenticity rules:
I think the field has been covered well, but to state (again) the obvious: branding is not about conveying something you are not but about revealing who you are.
Last, but not least on ThinkingSparks, excellent point raised by Pepita:
Authenticity isnâ€™t necessarily good. Nor does it mean good. I think of Al Qaeda, IRA, ETA, the mafia, street gangs etc. They would qualify as an authentic brand
In response on Pepita‘s comment here is an interesting reading:
Authentic brands are not about marketing. They are not products. They live inside the company. And they are held and enacted of the people, by the people and for the people!
Just like the Declaration of Independence created the foundation of a nation, so does your brand act as the foundation of your company. Its principles are the framework for thought and action by everyone in the company. Without it there is no consistency, no alignment between what you say and what you do, no synchronicity between who you are inside and the way you present yourself outside.
You may askâ€”â€œwell isnâ€™t that the same as culture?â€ The answer is yes and no. Authentic brands are in many ways the identity of the company culture. They help that culture become visible. They also embody the values and purpose of the company, giving all these things a face and a voice that can be seen and heard by everyone the company touches. But especially your employees. As the people who most keenly impact the day-to-day beliefs and actions of the company it is constantly amazing how little they are considered when brand is discussed.
A healthy strong brand has definitely has some other attributes than the best or the biggest. A healthy and a strong brand generates also more results than just bigger sales. A healthy strong brand sustain a product over time through consistency, excellent communication, providing value to its target customers. These and much more.
Here is a checklist of 23 brand health criterias as presented in Peter Cheverton’s excellent book Understanding Brands (Creating Success):
- is based on a proposition of genuine substance and value to the target customer
- communicates a clear and powerful brand definition
- communicates a clear â€˜emotional chargeâ€™
- communicates an attractive and relevant personality
- wins, builds and retains customer loyalty
- is well known by the target customer
- is held in high esteem by the target customer
- communicates and evidences a unique match between the companyâ€™s capabilities and the customerâ€™s needs
- is a source of competitive advantage
- is an investment of increasing value that others will want to own
- maintains its relevance over time by evolving in response to changing customer expectations and perceptions
- increases the profitability of the business is consistent with the business strategy
- makes sense within the businessâ€™s brand architecture
- provides a protective â€˜haloâ€™ for growth strategies
- provides a barrier to entry for new entrants or substitutes
- is uniquely positioned in the market and creates a relevant space in the customerâ€™s mind
- communicates and demonstrates a clear sense of value
- interacts consistently with the customer on as many fronts and on as many occasions as possible
- cements the brand definition into the customerâ€™s mind through interactions and positive associations
- is managed and supported consistently over time
- has values that can be applied consistently and successfully to all parts of the marketing
- mix and through all promotional media
- makes people want to get their hands on it