Sunday, December 11, 2005

Branding Nations

Continuing the point I made last week about hiring consultants to improve a country's image and perhaps rebranding it altogether... read this

Branding Nations

If the British consultant Simon Anholt had his way, sitting at the cabinet table with the secretary of defense and the attorney general would be a secretary of branding. Indeed, he foresees a day when the most important part of foreign policy isn't defense or trade but image - and when countries would protect and promote their images through coordinated branding departments. "I've visited a great many countries where they have ministers for things that are far less important," he says.

This year, Anholt, a prolific speaker, adviser to numerous governments and editor of the journal Place Branding, published "Brand America: The Mother of All Brands," in which he predicted that the days when countries will essentially open their own in-house marketing shops are right around the corner. "Governments understand this very well, and most of them are now trying or have tried in the past to achieve some kind of control over their images," Anholt writes. He may be on to something, since governments are quickly realizing that image maintenance isn't just about reeling in tourists - witness Karen Hughes's high-profile public-diplomacy efforts or Tony Blair's Public Diplomacy Strategy Board, an outgrowth of Britain's "Cool Britannia" campaign. Late last year, the Persian Gulf state Oman hired Landor Associates, a brand consulting outfit, to develop and promote "Brand Oman."

Isn't "BRAND KUWAIT" long overdue? Share your thoughts and ideas here...


  1. kewl - i worked for the same group that owns Landor ME :)

    btw, remember when i mentioned once in my post OnKuwait that the country is due for a major comeback ..?

    check this out :)

  2. moryarti... I knew you'd take the bait. We need to talk ;-)

  3. moryarti
    Thank you for the link
    I was reading in disbelieve. Very exiting news,but then came the last sentence;
    "But all of the planet?s existing buildings would be dwarfed by the planned Kuwaiti building. Kuhne said the new city and its central skyscraper would cost more than $150 million Cdn and take 25 years to build"
    Baaaasssss? Only 25 years?
    The 25 years would turn out to be 100 years in Kuwaiti time.

  4. nychick.. 25 years for the whole new city and the skyscraper, not just the building..

    ويعتمد منو المقاول

  5. You wanna bet that it will turn out to be another "madina e3lamya"
    ودي اكون اكثر تفاؤلا...بس مو قادرة

  6. Oh., I know no way to compare them ( different scale), but everything turns out to be a big disappointment in this country.7asafa

  7. Anyway back to the subject/topic....

  8. There is so much you can do to brand Kuwait - Kuwait is a pioneer in so many things .. education, art, business, politics ...

    Even of you think of the Al Nakhla (Palm) project here in Dubai - i think the first artificial man-made island for touristic purposes was in Kuwait in 88 (Al jazeerah al khadra on the sea front) - so the Kuwaitis did think of the concept it first - Don't they deserve some friggen credit for it?

    Zaydoun - if the vision is formulated, objectives sorted and budget allocated for this branding project then wallah you should start pinpointing your team players:

    A task force that formed of
    1) believers
    2) strategy-oriented thinkers
    3) highly tolerant monks
    4) communication and media schmoozing skills hustlers
    5)creative i-pod junkies


    6) a couple of official bullies with grande kojones for lobbying and red-tape dodging needs.. (excuse my French in the last one)

    Oh and this will only be the liaison team to manage the agency relationship ... which is another story :)

  9. moryarti... I'm salivating at the prospect of being involved in something like this.. I really wish it would happen

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  11. I have to say I get really worried when I hear the word has such negative/false-image connotations..I'm all for improving Kuwait (which is what i think you are for Z)..but I don't know if i would be for 'branding'..unless you are suggesting we improve kuwait so that its image improves...but if we're 'only' talking about image/brand..I don't know..we focus too much on madhahir as is at the expence of real, intrinsic improvement...and Dubai suffers from that too, to some extent..But it would be good to get advisors (who know the value of good impressions) who can steer the country into better and greater things, and not just construct an image like a house of cards..pretty on the outside empty and about to collapse on the inside..Again, i'm all for change and development and in a particularily Kuwaiti yes to a better image based on actual improvements and characteristics...hope that made sense.

  12. I agree with kwtia. No point of branding if you can't deliver.

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  14. hwkw/kwtia

    Of course we don't want to be all image and no substance, but I do believe that one thing does lead to the other... maybe if we build some perceptions and some hype, and then believe the in them.. they might become reality? Just wondering...

  15. I figured you weren't talking 'no substance'..but how 'bout changing the term brand and instead using something along the lines of vision or the sense that we are hoping for ideals and values and change that are something to strive for opposed to things that are already done and static. Because branding categorises and encapsulates when maybe it's better to continually evolve.
    Z Do you mean if we believe enough in the image we will start acting like it? That could be one way of going, but the other way would be to believe in the image so that you think you already have it and u can just lie back and bask in the fake glory...
    maybe? I'm just tossing stuff out here..
    by the way i just started Firefly..

  16. It's all possible.. some would be lazy and just bask in perceived glory and others would be ENCOURAGED and MOTIVATED to do even more and achieve something real

    Let me know how Firefly goes.. See? We believe in Joss Whedon, the brand (kidding!)

  17. @hwkw - forget all the marketing hype that can/will come along such project and think of the exogenous and positive spillovers it will have on the economy .. wouldn't that do the country any good? come on mate -

    And not that i am a big fan of whats happening here in Dubai on the construction scene - but i have to admit it .. they are doing one hell of a good job for themselves - they don't have any oil to rely on and their people enjoy one of world's highest per capita incomes -

    what you do think will happen in Kuwait not IF but WHEN the oil is all drained out? (which is not too far away from now)

    Diversification of the kuwaiti economy is the answer and such a project is only the beginning.

    @kwtia - branding is the personality of any product. Name it what you like - imaging, re-imaging ... branding is a combination of perceptions and emotions that generates a certain experience. This experience determines if i, the consumer, will invest in what this brands represents or not...

    Ya3ni - when you walk into a restaurant and have the most amazing sandwich. Would you come back if the waiter who served it was an anal SOB? i wouldn't.

    How do you label that place? Great food, horrible service - thats the brand attributes.

    Chances of going back is 50/50, hence, this is a losing restaurant.

    See how branding affects businesses? An innate understanding of how great (or dangerous) a brand can be is important to realize and understand its impact on the bottom-line of anything - people, business and countries.

    And put that Naomi Klein book down and try Matt Haig or Al Ries :)

  18. LOL.. funny comment about Naomi Klein. And yes I think 'kwtia' is a fan of hers


  19. bRaND mE pLEaSe :)

    zaydoun yallah start something and ill be the first customer and if u will an invester too ....

    yallah yallah i3glha w twakal

  20. branding kuwait or improving the over all image will benefit kuwait simply because people believe what you show them.

    If they believe the presented image they will act on it, the cleanest country in the world image will make people not throwing pepsi cans out the window, (yesterday my husband and I got soo mad at this melte7ee guy for throwing his meswaach min his window 3ala el eshara but that?s another blog topic) ( last week I had to say something to a met7ajba woman throwing gesher 7ab min el dereesha bas that?s another blog too laken I had to mention it)

    If u market Kuwait as "blahblah" people will become that "blahblah" automatically, its like giving them something to be proud of, o e7na kuwaityeen already shayfeen 3umurna hal door we have a reason to?!

    if u see something pretty u think its pretty from the inside out and admire it and then act as if its pretty, u don?t usually think of the inside.

    what im trying to say, improving the image and working on the outside will help our kuwaiti people be better from the inside. its like trying to sell kuwait for the kuwaities, make them think KUWAIT is the coolest term to use and they will kuwaitize everything

    if we label ourself as a lazy nation, people will be proud of being part of that nation, if we label ourself as the nation that is always dressed up, people will not even go to el jam3eya without their make up on. If we label ourselves as the nation that cares about the children people will breastfeed more and u will not see the father smoking with the 2 months old baby sitting right there next to him in lenotre marina ( I knew I will end up mentioning it because 7addaaa narfazneee o el baby kesar kha6reeeeeeee ams)

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  22. did you read the link from the independent? kuwait hopes to bid for the olympics? funny since i saw a panorama episode on the bbc where the kuwaiti IOC official was filmed under cover willing to accept a bribe to help london's bid!!! ba3dain chinna il deera ma itakffi all those people? i agree with what was said earlier. we need to sort out our mess first before we attempt to project a positive image.

  23. I totally agree with the idea the only thing is that this branding thing needs a caliber of people I don't thing we have them in Q8 right know. The other thing is that Q8 30 years a go has things to be branded we have been going backwards (politically, socially, artistry?etc) for a long time I guess we have nothing left to brand.

  24. Brand Kuwait?! Close on the heels of "Bend It Like Maktoum", eh?
    I agree , perception and projection are everything in today's digital society and so it should be too. Last I noticed, I couldn't name too many brand consultant friends of mine who were out of work, although as a species, brand consultants are in no short supply both sides of the Suez, even more so, after Black Tuesday. But one thing's for sure, they don't come any better than the smooth talking Adel Al Jubeir who does all he can in putting a civil face to, what is patently, a barbaric and hopelessly antiquated regime, to the rest of the world.

    The govt of Dubai's spin machine is also the toast of business schools and management gurus everywhere, for it takes more than just slippery political cunning(and also tosh, maybe) to try and pass off this watering hole to the Russian and Indian mafia, as some kind of a safe tax haven for the white collared.

    Also are we forgetting "Branding Blogs"? 9/11 has given birth to perception consultants everywhere working overtime with blog rantings of their own self righteousness, whilst rubbishing others' points of view.
    On any given day, therefore; it is difficult to put your finger on a blog which mightn't be the handiwork of a certain interest group/ think tank, or somesuch.


Keep it clean, people!