The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
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SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Friday, 18 July 2003

SHOULD NATIONS BE BRANDED? [posted by Ilanah and Jeremy]

Writing in Design Week (10 July 2003) Wolff Olins director John Williamson argues that countries should develop their own national brand identities. Only by “branding” can a country project its own national flavour and personality. If this isn’t done, countries are perceived by their leading international brands. Examples of brands which appear to personify their countries of origin are not hard to find: McDONALDS and NIKE may be said to epitomise the US, MERCEDES and BMW summarise Germany, CHAMPAGNE and DIOR will do for France while ARMANI and GUCCI typify Italy. Williamson urges countries to devote at least 1% of their annual gross domestic product on national branding programmes. Simon Anholt (Place Branding Institute director) disagrees: brands are about simplicity, while countries are complex and contradictory.

However, Anholt’s theory may be a little difficult to put into practice. In a sense most countries already do have a “brand” in the national stereotypes that abound (none of which need to be repeated here!) It is doubtful whether any amount of directed branding would be able to surplant these national stereotypes and so any country following Anholt’s advice would be wasting money that would be better spent elsewhere.

For more on place branding, look here
Alternatively, why not go the whole hog and let branding permeate every aspect of national life, however distasteful? see for example the debate surrounding the branding of the recent Iraq war here and here

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