Brand Thy Country

Brand refers to the collection of images, audio, and text that combine to gather to represent a service, a product, or a company. It symbolically embodies the company, product or services, all information connected to them, and their attributes, hence its need is immense.

The concept of brand and branding started in the 19th century with the advent of packaged goods. Factory administrations would literally brand their products with their logo, the word “brand” then extended to mean “trademark”.

Over the years, countries have also started presenting themselves as brands. A country is not just a physical piece of land; it’s a vision, an identity. It has its own logo (the flag) and in broad terms a tag line (the national anthem’s first line).  It inspires love, nostalgia, interest depending on a person’s relation with a country. A country represents its culture, its people, its landscapes, and its mountains etc., i.e. everything that exists within the boundaries of the country or that originated in the country.

Usually, when country is thought of as a brand, it is in terms of tourism, places to visit, events to enjoy. Al-Hamra Palace signifies Spain, Pyramids are Egyptian, Faisal Mosque symbolizes Pakistan, Taj Mahal represents India and so on. The country brand is more than just tourism.

Think in other terms, fashion – France, consumer electronics – Japan, security software – Israel, Microsoft Windows – U.S.A, the Saas/Bahu saga – India and so on. The image we have for a country is its brand image, whether it is perceived as place to visit, a place to invest, or a source of consumer goods (guess who…China!!!).  According to http://www.futurebrands.com “Every country is a brand, either by design or by default”.

Efforts have been made by various countries to project themselves as tourism spots like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand etc. Others have focused on presenting them as potential investment hubs, but this hasn’t been done with the inherent idea of the country as a brand.

Branding the country will definitely hold benefits for the country itself and its residents. If focused on the optimistic parts, it will help build a positive image of the country in the world (Pakistan certainly needs a positive brand building given the extremely negative representation due to certain crises).  Branding the country will make the strategic position of the country in its geographic region strong as well as help it to generate revenue to keep up in the country to country competition.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, this task has become very simple. With a large population of the world using the Internet almost 24 hours daily, a country only needs the right people to create the right image for it in the right circles.

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