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The Nation As Brand

Ruchita and I are back from a hectic trip to India and the Kyoorius Design Yatra of which we will write about in our next post. Going back a few years to Design Yatra in 2007, I heard Wally Olins speak about branding and in particular about a project for Portugal.

Wally is the chairman of Saffron Brand Consultants and his ideas on the nation as a brand are an insightful look into how countries can build their image to attract trade, investment and tourism. In this exclusive piece for our First Person column, Wally shares some of his thoughts on the subject.

Wally Olins, Chairman of Saffron Brand Consultants speaking at Design Yatra in 2008


The Nation As Brand

by Wally Olins, Chairman, Saffron Brand Consultants


Most people know very little about nations other than their own. Where they know anything at all, their attitudes are formed from myth, rumour and anecdote. These almost always lean towards grotesque caricatures which are, mostly, relatively harmless.

Well known countries, of course, have the advantage; France – Flair, Italy – Style, Germany – Engineering, China – the New Superpower, U.S. – still tops in Technology, Main Street and Opportunity. But every nation has to get into the game if it wants to get more prosperous.

Nations, of course, have always attempted to project their political power, influence and prestige; largely for their own self-esteem and, even more in an increasingly globalized world, they continue to do so.

Nowadays, however, nations also need to compete on hard, quantifiable issues – exports, inward investment and tourism. Globalisation has changed the game. There are winners and losers. The winners get richer and stronger, the losers remain poor and weak. Each nation now seeks to promote its individual personality, culture, history and values, projecting what may be an idealised but immediately recognisable idea of itself for economic and commercial as well as political purposes. These pressures drive nations to adopt the marketing and branding techniques used successfully by so many global companies for a long time.

Some nations do it better than others. Made in Italy is, at the moment, worth more than Made in Turkey but, if Turkey or India gets into the game, things may change.

First Person is a new column in which Little Design Book invites practitioners to tell us about a particular project, their inspiration or creative process from their point of view.

One Comment

  1. Divya@SHP wrote:

    How interesting as a concept!

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