25 July 2005

Branding Malaysia

Branding products is hard. According to McKinsey & Company, up to 90% of products fail to become brands, despite the approximately US$1.5 trillion that is spent annually on marketing.

Branding countries is even harder. There are fewer than 200 countries worldwide. This means that the stakes are higher in terms of tourism, investment, exports and even international influence. But the rewards are huge. Tourism is now the number one industry in the world. But how do you brand a nation?

Increasingly fragmented media and an increase in leisure time activities is making it harder to reach consumers. For instance, a survey by Willard Bishop Consulting in the USA found that in 1995, it took three TV commercials to reach 80% of 18-to-49-year old women. In 2000, a mere 5 years later, it took 97 ads to reach the same group.

Furthermore, due to increasing global & regional competition for tourist dollars, an international “one-size-fits-all” tourism strategy is no longer effective. Indeed, consumers are now unable to differentiate between all the sand, azure water, blue skies, smiling children and so on. Countries must brand themselves by aligning differentiated offerings with the values and requirements of specific segments.

Special attention should be paid to retention branding and Internet-based data collection and communications. The goal of the project is increased tourism among targeted segments in terms of first-time and repeat visitors, length of stay and amount of spending. Other goals include development of appropriate benchmarks and other measurements.

But Nation-branding is not, as many think, simply a matter of advertising. There are actually six forces involved in branding a nation:

• Tourism: This includes promotion, as well as people’s experiences visiting the country as tourist or business travelers.

• Exports: These are powerful ambassadors of the country’s image abroad (but only when it is clearly stated where they are made).

• Government actions: Governments must not only be involved in traditional diplomacy, but public diplomacy as well. This involves communicating directly with the people of other countries through cultural and scientific exchanges, PR, etc.

• Investment: How does a nation attract – and reward – international investment and talent?

• Culture: In many ways, a nation’s culture represents its soul. Nations must work at publicizing their cultures, which can range from dance and theater to famous authors and artists.

• People: Countries are judged by their people on two levels. The first is according to the high-profile leaders, media and sports stars. The second is the general population. How do they behave abroad and how well to they treat international visitors.

As we all know, the international business world has changed dramatically. Branding now requires a consistent ability to establish, maintain and grow profitable relationships with customers in specific segments. Brands must now adapt to the emerging business and customer imperatives of tomorrow, which include a special emphasis on research and data collection and analysis, effective customer, channel and employee communications, operational excellence, accountability, service and the ongoing ability to meet customer requirements.

A beautiful, award winning, commercial with enhanced imaging that blurs the line between truth and fiction and looks the same as every other country is not the way to brand a nation.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like a dead brand blog to me ...

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