Social and political marketing

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Nation branding is a procedure to build, manage and measure the reputations of different nations. It can be considered as the solicitation of corporate marketing technique and concept on nations (Song, 2011). This is a significant aspect in developing inter-country relationships and building a brand image as well as it helps to infuse nationalism extending to private and public sector. This branch of study is a researchable subject to the scholars, as it aims to establish various concepts related to national branding such as investment capital, attraction of tourism, impact of economic and political regulations, etc. (Song, 2011).

Brand Identity and Brand Image

Brand image is a perception, which is much more than creating a logo that recognises a trade or organization, its services and products as well as the opinion of the consumers for the said brand (Nandan, 2004). Often, entrepreneurs make a mistake in understanding the importance of brand image, as they associate the same with unnecessary expenses adding to the value of services and products. It is an aspect that helps to build an impression and creation of memory in the minds of the consumers. It also assists in creating a recognition with consistent interaction with customers and develops a recognizable image in front of them (Nandan, 2004). Although, in case of brand identity, it is the message that the customers receive from the services and products. Brand identity originates from an organization wanting to create differentiated products or services. Thus, brand identity is the consistent message that must be delivered to the audience (Nandan, 2004). For example, if a portion of recognising is that of a particular shade, a consistency in the shade is obligatory, as it is imperative in the preservation of the product identity, and hence identity must be matched with the projected image to the public (Papadopoulos and Heslop, 2002).

Brand identity from the perspective of nation branding can be explained with the help of the example of Scotland tourism, where the visual aspect is given special significance with promotion through its logo called the ‘Scotland mark’. The logo was established as a specified mark of the nation, which was not only uniquely authenticated and identified with that of the services and products being offered by Scotland, but also provided a guarantee of the same (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). The logo named ‘Scotland mark’ can be found on the products ranging from drink, food, textiles to hotels and other services such as software, financial services, transport and electronics. However, this visual identity of Scotland on the basis of the logo can be considered as purely cosmetic and superficial, although the process of research design of this logo can assist in establishing strategy with regards to corporate communication and branding (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

Comparative brand identity can also be cited from the example where example can be cited from the United Kingdom. In UK, it is considered that a quality assurance certificate for software development adds value to the product and services and not a logo, whereas in case of logo of the Scotland, this identity causes to perform the same confidence-providing and value-adding role to the customers when there exists purchasing of services and products (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). The significance and nature of brand image and brand identity have successfully highlighted to identify their relative importance on implementation of the strategy. Core concept of brand image and identity can thus be related to explain nation branding.

There exists five important aspects in the development of brand identity from the context of nation branding, namely, brand scope, brand personality, brand vision, brand positioning, and brand essence (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). Brand positioning from the perspective of a nation, it can be said that it directed to strive in order to occupy a place in the minds of the consumers. Brand scope indicates a subdivision of the documents of the country and distinguishing the product and services categories and market segments, where the brand can enter into (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). Brand vision indicates the internal document that the nation can present by clearly explaining the future direction, where the brand wants to lead to as well as the desired status and role can be stated. For establishing the brand personality, a nation requires to connect to the greater internal audience in order to connect emotionally (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

In case of developing a brand essence, the concept indicates the soul and heart of the nation is marketed as a brand to the international audience to express the reason for its uniqueness and position (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). Although, to understand the significance in establishing a brand image, it is significant to know that the image of a nation is very complex, as different places of the country come into focus on a global platform during various time frames.  Brand image of a country is impacted by various news, political and economic news that are reflected on an international stage (White, 2012). A stark difference can be understood between brand image and brand identity, where the latter originates from an organisation and the former refers to the perceptions of the consumers, image and the specific identity of the nation (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

In case of developing a brand image of a nation, this is imperative that a coordinated approach is undertaken so that it can understand and interpret public’s perception of the same. There exists various other determinants that establish the brand image of a nation such as the performance of the country in sports, politics, projection of the same via advertisements and entertainment platforms, media or television, behaviour of the citizens to the tourists, products and services quality emanating from the particular nation, etc. (Koubaa, 2008). With the explanation of the national brand image, it is imperative to understand that there is a requirement of segmentation of the targeted audience and it necessitates to be carried out in order to influence as well as monitor image held by the audience. Thus, brand image of a nation is completely different from that of its brand identity on the ground that the former forms a subjective mental image, which is shared by the consumers, whereas the latter formulates plans and strategies to establish the same in front of their customers (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

Importance of brand image can be established with the help of an example, where a deconstructed corporate brand picture of Egypt projects several aspects to the international audience, i.e., political and institutional image, products and services available there as well as the condition of trade and commerce there (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). From the perspective of nation branding, image, identity and reputation are the three significant aspects that are interchangeably utilised often. Besides, mental association, knowledge and experience are the three issues associated to the building of a brand image and brand identity (Fan, 2010). Thus, reputation and image are the constituents of symmetrical communications between the internal stakeholders and the nation itself. The brand image of a nation is the central focus of the people residing there, whereas the brand identity of a nation is shaped by people, who reside outside the nation. Such brand identity is established by the personal experience, knowledge, and stereotyping. (Fan, 2010). However, in case of brand image, the picture of a country can be communicated, repositioned and packaged in a commercial and professional fashion, but to build a brand identity of a nation, there is a requirement to build proper mission and vision that are to be attained (Fan, 2010).

Nation brand identity can be referred to a definite ‘nation brand’ and not the country itself. Thus, it constitutes a series of connections that the brand strategist wants to maintain or create and more specifically, it might indicate the logo or symbol identifying the same (Fan, 2010). Any alteration in a country’s identity can be accomplished or accompanied by certain basic changes in social, economic, and political systems. Brand identity formulation affects the competitive positioning, as it is also dependent on the innovative techniques adopted by the same (Fan, 2010). Nation branding is the procedure, in which the brand image of a country can be proactively monitored, created and evaluated managed to improvise or enhance a nation’s reputation in front of the international target audience (Anholt, 2013). Thus, creation of a nation’s brand image helps to remove the confusion with regards to the importance of brand identity (Fan, 2010).

The greatest challenge in case of nation branding delves on the process of communication of messages or images to the targeted international audience (Anholt, 2013). At present, the nation-brand identity can also be distinguished from nation-brand image on the basis some of the components (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). The key components formulating the nation-brand identity are language, history, territory, architecture, political regime, sports, religion, and icons representing the nations, education systems, music, landscape, folklore, drink and foods. Correspondents of the nation-brand identity are sports achievements, exclusive exports, the diaspora, brand ambassadors, marketing communication techniques, cultural artefacts, tourism experience, presence of prominent personalities, and foreign policies (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

The components formulating a nation-brand image are its audiences such as domestic consumers, domestic firms, external consumers, media, government, investors and other internal stakeholders (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). Comparative analysis of nation-brand identity and nation-brand image can be done by providing examples as well. In the context of Chief Operating Officer (COO), copy of a product and service formulates the image of a nation and the perception of its capabilities. The image of a country can find it beneficial or disadvantageous based on whether the features or viability matches with it or not. Example can be cited of this problem from a Japanese company trading in cosmetic items, named Kao, enjoy great trading and commercial activities in Asian countries that could not enter the sphere of European and American market as its items and products possessed as adverse image in those markets of making extremely reliable items which is technologically superior (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008).

Example of nation-brand identity can be quoted from a program in the Hungarian National Tourism Organization that intended to develop and create a new brand identity for Hungary (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). The organization mentioned, used slogans such as ‘Talent for entertaining’ after detailed research done through foreign tourists on, if they would select Hungary as their holiday destination or not. The research was also based on talented people and hospitality reflecting the essence of the slogan. Such research thus revealed that the main idea of the campaign included personalization of strategic tourism items of the nation and promotional methods recognized by around eleven Hungarian celebrities, who are professional in their respective fields. This campaign of Hungary only aimed at international customers.

In addition to the aforementioned campaign undertaken by Hungary to build a nation-brand identity and develop a coherent nation called the ‘Hungary Roundtable’ in the year 2005, where a crucial role was played by the Hungarian National Tourism Organisation, they also involved in other activities. Other Central European nations maintain up-to-date and modern websites that serve as ‘one-stop shop’ informing about the country (Cultural Diplomacy, 2008). Another example can be cited from South Korea, as it has provided a distinctive instance to project remarkable progress and advancement over the last three decades in establishing the nation’s brand image. ‘Korean Wave’ is considered as a remarkable film projecting with music and entertainment to develop the overall image of the South-East Asia and other parts of Asia (Anholt, 2013). Previously, this nation had a very weak international brand image, as it spent very less in order to promote itself. Such adverse image of South Korea has been impacted by the thinking and perceptions of the people residing in the country as well (Anholt, 2013). Thus, it is suggested that to build a suitable brand image, it is imperative to spend more on promotional activities as well.


Nation-brand identity and nation-brand image are the two distinct aspects of nation branding. Establishment of nation-brand image is internal in nature and thus depends on the perspective of internal stakeholders of the country, whereas nation-brand identity is the procedure of establishment of brand vision, brand positioning, brand personality, brand mission, etc. Various examples can be cited regarding the programs and procedures of different nations to develop their identity and image. Development of both brand identity and image is very beneficial to develop the nation as well as to get a wider opportunity to express itself in front of the target international audience.

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  1. Anholt, S., 2013. Beyond the nation brand: the role of image and identity in international relations. The Journal of Public Diplomacy, 2(1), pp. 6-12.
  2. Cultural Diplomacy, 2008. Nation branding. [pdf] Available at: <,_Issues,_Practice_-_Keith_Dinnie.pdf> [Accessed 21 December.2017].
  3. Fan, Y., 2010. Branding the nation: towards a better understanding. Place branding and public diplomacy, 6(2), pp.97-103.
  4. Koubaa, Y., 2008. Country of origin, brand image perception, and brand image structure. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 20(2), pp.139-155.
  5. Nandan, S., 2004. An exploration of the brand identity–brand image linkage: A communications perspective. Journal of Brand Management, 12(4), pp.264-278.
  6. Papadopoulos, N. and Heslop, L., 2002. Country equity and country branding: Problems and prospects. The Journal of Brand Management9(4), pp.294-314.
  7. Song, K.B., 2011. Brand Singapore: how nation branding built Asia’s leading global city. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd.
  8. White, C.L., 2012. Brands and national image: An exploration of inverse country-of-origin effect. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 8(2), pp.110-118.
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