Sunday, 6 March 2011

Is Nation Branding a Modern Phenomenon?

The term ‘Nation Branding’ was first coined by Simon Anholt in the 1990s and, although definitions vary, is generally accepted to mean the managing of the image and reputation of a country (Dinnie 2008) through the application of branding and marketing communication techniques (Fan 2006)

There are now many nations who use Nation Branding for the advancement of their country. A current example is Australia who has branded their country as an idealistic place to live because of the relaxed lifestyle, better climate and beautiful beaches. Living ‘The Australian way’ as the adverts targeted at Britons say. These adverts aim to develop the Australian brand and attract both tourists and the skilled labour that Australia is short of. In order to promote tourism and improve their flow of skilled immigrants Australia is actively marketing their country to the target market. This is the modern way of nation branding.

Since the 1990s Nation Branding has developed both in academic circles and in practise and there are now agencies and experts who can be assigned to help a nation improve or develop their brand in a similar way to the branding of commercial products. However, while the active development of a nation brand is being credited as a new phenomenon, there are a number of authors including Olins (2002) who point to examples of countries branding much earlier than the 1990s.

Olins says that every time a nation changes its political regime or goes through a form of revolution the country re-brands itself. After World War Two many countries began to achieve their independence, an example of this can be seen in Africa with the Gold Coast which achieved independence and changed its name to Ghana in 1957. This change of name can be interpreted as a form of branding as it is an attempt to break free from the image that this country was part of a colonial empire. (Olins 2002)

It seems fair to suggest that a form of nation branding has existed for longer than the term has been used in academic cycles however it is also true to say that nation branding is more important today than it was in the past. The era in which we live; one of global trade, freedom of travel and real time information, makes nation branding important for achieving foreign investment, tourism and global power. Without a positive image associated with a country it can be harder for them to compete in world where people have more choice about where to invest, where to visit and where to build a life.


Dinnie, K. (2008), Nation Branding, Concepts, Issues, Practice, Butterworth-Heinemann: Oxford

Fan, Y. (2006), “Branding the Nation: What is being branded?” in Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 12, Nº 1, 5-14

Moilanen, T. and Rainesto, S. (2009), How to Brand Nations, Cities and Destinations: A Planning Book for Place Branding and Destinations, Palgrave Macmillan: Besingtoke

Olins, W. (2002), “Branding the Nation – The Historical Context” in Brand Management, Vol. 9, Nº 4-5, 241-248

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