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DIPLOMACY ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ

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NATION BRANDING EFFORTS

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... interpretational gap can occur between the country’s internal narrative based on traditional national attributes, such as la joie-de-vivre and hospitality; and the foreign image presenting the country as a problematic nation. This mismatch can provoke a serious damage, an international disqualification of identity, and even a stigma of certain characteristics for a whole nation. Further more, this spoiled identity (Goffman, 1963) can be interiorized by a nation – under the burden of the stigma people can start doubting the value of their identity and interpret the stigma as a punishable feature of their culture. In order to illustrate theory and precise communicational and socio-psychological tactics for a successful nation branding of CEE countries, I would use the examples of Slovakia (President of the Council of the EU in 2007), Poland (President of the Council of the EU in 2011), as well as a brief review of branding strategies of the forthcoming Presidents of the EU – Bulgaria and Estonia. Slovenia – branding from the inside to the outside After the independence of Slovenia proclaimed in 1991, the nation faced an identity crisis both from the inside and from the outside – the country had to find a completely new narrative and to form a new way of presenting itself based on the feeling of appurtenance to a newborn Republic. The first branding messages of Slovenia were already in place during the last years of Yugoslavia – the Slovenia, my homeland campaign towards the end of 1980s significantly raised national consciousness and continued forming a national identity until the end of the century (www.slovenia.info, The brands of Slovenia. From the linden leaf to “I feel Slovenia”, 2016). The need of rebranding Slovenia occurred with the country’s entering the European family in 2005, and the temporary slogan Slovenia invigorates was put in place as a first attempt to use a uniform slogan for the outside world and wake up foreign curiosity for the country. In 2008 Slovenia became the first country of the ex-communist bloc that had recently accessed the EU to preside the Council of the European Union – this was the starting point of a major change in the way Slovenians were experiencing their own identity. The country manifested its openness to the outside with a new logo and slogan in English: I Feel Slovenia. Official logo of Slovenia since 2007 The campaign I Feel Slovenia and thus, the articulated Slovenian identity were the product of a complex research and engagement on different levels. Three phases have taken place: • Phase 1: review of secondary data. This phase constituted a research on foreign perceptions about the Slovenian brand. • Phase 2: collection of primary data following a three-step approach to identity building. This phase contained a detailed research and key stakeholder engagement to create a unique definition of what it is to be Slovenian. DIPLOMACY 18/2016 127

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... • Phase 3: development of brand identity based on results collected during the second phase, as well as relevant secondary data. The results presented the mission of the campaign, the Slovenian core values, the Slovenian personality and the benefits the country can bring to the European family. The table below demonstrates the stakeholder engagement strategy for the creation of brand identity: Delphi method Two iterations Questionnaire 30 opinion leaders from key areas Representatives from key areas (707 respondents) Questions on the web site Public Maja Konecnik Ruzzier, Leslie de Chernatony, 2010, A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO BRANDING SLOVENIA The new brand identity of Slovenia communicated the values of the nation and combined elements of both their virtual and actual social identity. The color used for the logo design was the Slovenian green – the national color correlating to the calmness and beauty of Slovenian nature, to the organic connection between Slovene people and their home country, to their motivation, energy and simplicity of life. On the other hand, the slogan positions the brand on the emotional side of brand perceptions, a tactic that adds value to the brand equity. In 2016, the multilevel stakeholder engagement strategy has paid out – within a few years of brand promotion internally and externally, the brand I Feel Slovenia gained a satisfactory level of recognition among Slovenians and became a unifier for Slovenian tourism, products and services, sport teams, administration. Poland – overcoming the stigma Brand identity The first official Polish branding efforts started during the accession process of the country to the EU. Stigmatized by more dominant EU countries for its cheap labor abroad, Poland was experiencing the effects of its spoiled identity and had to face the fear of the EU members that an outdated and greedy country will enter the Union, and Poles will invade richer EU countries (Bobinski, 2004). In 2005 the French satirical newspaper published a cartoon of a Polish plumber, which sarcastically symbolized the cheap and unwanted workforce that moved from Central and Eastern Europe to the old Western Europe after the accession of the 10 new states to the EU in 2004. This led to a quick and well tailored response that constituted the first pillar of the Polish nation branding and self-presentation under the lights of international media. 128 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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