1 year ago




NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... countries ranked according to the perception of nearly 20,000 people in 20 countries collected via a questionnaire with 40 questions. Champions for 2014 are the U.S.A., Germany, the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, and Sweden. For the first time since five consecutive years of leadership in 2014 the United States landed on the second place after Germany mostly because their role in global peace and security was ranked No. 19 out of the 50 participant countries in the survey (Kulikowski, 2015). In 2015 the U.S.A. regained its first place. Conceptual convergence between public diplomacy and nation branding Public diplomacy and nation branding appear to be close but yet not entirely duplicating areas of studies: Nation branding Public Diplomacy Nation branding Public Diplomacy Public Diplomacy Nation branding Nation branding Public Diplomacy Public Diplomacy & Nation branding (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Figure 1: Nation branding and public diplomacy relationship (Szondi, 2008) The level of overlapping between the concepts predetermines the convergence model – they might be two semantically different concepts (1), the nation branding might incorporate the public diplomacy and vice versa (2 and 3), public diplomacy and nation branding might be analyzed as two different but overlapping concepts (4) and as fully overlapping (5). According to Szondi’s analysis, public diplomacy and nation branding could be conceived as two completely different communication tools based on their conceptualization of the relationship between us and they: while public diplomacy searches to bring together nations in their similarities, nation branding searches for what differentiates a nation from the other in order to individualize and boost its unique selling points. The second approach (2) grasps nation branding as a larger discipline containing public diplomacy just as an element of the whole. This marketization of governmental communication to foreign publics turns a country’s image into a brand and there is a real danger that it appears too advertising in the eyes of the foreign publics – beautiful but not credible at all. The third approach (3) reverses this concept and empowers public diplomacy as a communication tool that compounds nation branding. This might lead to the institutionalization of the nation branding and its enclosure behind the doors of the national public administration. Unfortunately, one of the outcomes of the connection of bureaucracy to nation branding can be the slowdown or even the interruption of creative processes. As Melissen (2005) claims public diplomacy and nation branding are sisters “under the skin” (model 4). As they both have the goal to build a national identity, create a positive national image, and manage the reputation of a country in order to increase its soft power and gain DIPLOMACY 18/2016 125

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... strategic advantages, public diplomacy and nation branding could best function together and in a coordinated manner. Indeed, the convenience of this model is that it brings together institutions and marketing professionals united in their ultimate objective – the relationship building with multiple stakeholders and the two-way dialogue, no matter if it is institutional or a purely marketing initiative. Last but not least, according to model 5 public diplomacy and nation branding are fully similar – they are entirely focused on communication, in the sense of their connotation to advertising. While the concepts of nation branding and public diplomacy cover a variety of strategic communication and network engagement initiatives and tactics, what remains vague is the socio-psychological features of image construction and maintenance of a nation. Therefore, a reference here can be made to the famous sociologist Erwin Goffman (Goffman, 1959). According to Goffman’s dramaturgical theory, the identity of an “actor” (Goffman uses the metaphor for face-to-face communication. However, we can argue that it can apply as well to an organization or in this case – a nation-state), is not a constant and immutable psychological entity but it is being formed in the process of interaction with the others and in the act of everyday manifestation of identity. In other words, a person/organization/state is constantly trying to control or guide the impression that others might make of them by changing or fixing their setting, appearance, manner, and behavior in order to acquire the desired image in the eyes of the others. On the other hand, the audience is constantly forming an impression about this actor based on the received information. Often, the actor gives much more information about himself/herself that he/she can wittingly control. The everyday performance of identity possesses several key elements that constitute the integrity of the act. The performance front responds to the definition of the situation and the setting, which contextualize the act for the public: in the case of public diplomacy activities the front will be platform of the campaign itself. The back region is where the message is fabricated, where the role is rehearsed and “the illusions and impressions are openly constructed” (Goffman, 1959). The dramatic realization is the aspect that highlights the facts and attitudes, which convoy the actor’s role – those are the attributed elements of the state in question, the national affirmative characteristics normally based on stereotypes (for example: the hospitality of the Balkan countries, the chattiness of Italians, etc.) The idealization refers to the elevated image that a country would present in front of others in order to meet social expectations and relevant norms. An important part of the presentation for a person, organization or a country is the maintenance of expressive control, which presents the careful control of the image, the decoding and the interpreting of the signs the performer is giving off to the audience. The actor on stage has to stay in role, just like a country promoting itself as a human rights defender as a part of its public diplomacy, for instance, should keep this role in order to prove to the international community that human rights policies are a real part of its identity. This process potentially creates space for a misrepresentation, which in Goffman’s terms refers to the danger of delivering the wrong message. Another Goffman’s concept that can be applied to national identity management is the one of virtual versus actual social identity. Virtual social identity refers to the way an entity (individual, organization, nation-state) perceives itself, while actual social identity refers to how the others see it from the outside. If we take the example of Greece, for instance, an 126 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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