Nation Branding Lab


Tag: Nation Branding

Nation branding in emergency: Lybia, Japan

Lybia and Japan are weathering two different kinds of tragedy. Lybians are fighting for democracy and the Japanese, against natural disaster. This is no time to think about nation brand for both countries, but it is clear that they are demonstrating the fact that nation brands are not only shaped by governments’ well-planned strategies, but also by phenomenon that cannot be predicted and controlled.

Lybia ranks the lowest in nation brand and Japan ranks amongst the top. Although the consequences of what is going on in the two countries will not be evaluated until for a long time, their responses to the disasters will take part in tremendously affecting their nation brand. Therefore, it is important that they overcome this difficult time with wisdom. It is crucial for leaders to step forward and spearhead the Lybian people to keep fighting for democracy and earn the neighbors’ support. This would be the only way for Lybia to throw away its horrible reputation and start anew. As for Japan, it is important for the government and the citizens to respond to the disaster camly. This is the only way they can take advantage of the situation and even better their nation brand by earning respect and trust from the world.

South Korea Finally on Its Way

South Korea currently ranks 44th in FutureBrand’s 2010 Country Brand Index, and 33rd in Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index. Definitely not a satisfactory record for a country that has risen as a 13th largest economy and successfully hosted the Olympics, World Cup, and G20 Summit. However, I can’t say that South Korea had failed in building a nation brand because it just began working on it.

[G20 Seoul Summit 2010]

Considering the fact that South Korea was one of the most impoverished nations in the world only 50 years ago after Japanese colonization and devastating Korean War, the status of Korea’s nation brand is still a commendable feat.

[South Korean streets after the Korean War]

Consider this. It is a common sense that when you are in an emergency situation, you are not likely to care how you look or what people think about your appearance. When you finally settle of your problem and find yourself in a stable situation, then you look at yourself in a mirror and say to yourself, ‘’Wow..I gotta fix my hair”. This is where South Korea stands right now.

Only two years ago, South Korea officially launched PCNB (The Presidential Council on Nation Branding) with a goal of enhancing its global reputation and the awareness of its culture in the world. Currently, South Korea has developed as a stronghold of trendy TV shows, movies, and music in East Asia. This phenomenon, called Korean Wave or Hallyu, has set fire on Korea’s aggressive cultural expansion. Barack Obama keeps mentioning South Korea as the model of education, democracy, and reconstruction in his speeches the world listens to.  

[The Tokyo Statium with 50,000 Japanese fans gathered up to meet Korean actor Yong-Joon Bae who greeted his fans in the air baloon]

South Korea indeed has a lot to work on and need a sense of urgency in building a solid public relations strategy. If not, South Korea will remain as a ‘developing country’ to the eyes of the world. Especially in terms of its astonishing history, including the ancient civilizations and kingdoms (with many, many interesting facts and tales that are equally captivating as those of Maya, Rome, and Egypt), Hwarang (an elite group of young warriors of Silla Dynasty), and the independence movement against Japan (a great background source for thousands of potential movies and novels) will continue to go unnoticed by a majority part of the world.

[Modern enactement Hwarang escourting their Queen in Korean TV show]

A Good Nation Brand

What makes a good nation brand?

First, a good nation brand would have to serve a practical initiative. In other words, a good nation brand helps the govenment to better manage the nation’s image it wants to project to the world. A good nation brand helps the government generate the political and economic capital it desires.

However, there is something more to a nation brand than a practical purpose. Like any good brand should be able to elicit emotional attachment from its users, a good nation brand needs the power to attract people across the world in its own unique way. The key to generate this emotional attachment can be done not only by enhacing the nation’s reputation with its economy, politics, history, and culture, but also by naturally forming the intergrity of the nation. This is the difficult part that requires time. This integrity can be created when the nature of the people of the country and actions of the government correlate with the image the nation tries to construct.


Country Brand Index by FutureBrand

2010 COUNTRY BRAND INDEX was presented after a research by FutureBrand in partnership with BBC World News. The Country Brand Index is an annual research that ranks country brands, based on FutureBrand’s research methodology. This methodology evaluates country brand scores based on each nation’s performance in 7 categories : familiarity, preference, advocacy, associations, consideration, visitation, and awareness.

(Source :

We all are fond of eye-catching rankings such as sports team and college rankings.

How about a country brand ranking? Is it reliable?

Is it possible to evaluate a nation’s brand and rank it above and below those of other nations by surveying only 3,400 people as FutureBrand did?

Country Brand Index by FutureBrand is only one of several other country brand rankings that have been released so far. I plan to cover a few of them soon and see how they are consistent with one another.

“So, Where The Bloody Hell Are You?”

How can a country like Australia fail to attract tourists?

Coral reef, Sydney Opera House, Harbor Bridge, and the Kangaroos… Australia is one of the countries that  have successfully unified its image as a vacation destination with its national image.

However, a few years ago Australia’s the “Where The Bloody Hell Are You?” campaign, one of its most ambitious campaigns, proved that Australia, too, can lose tourists. Tourism Australia spent $180 million Australian dollars to execute this campaign, targeting mainly United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany from 2006 to 2007.

I can see the ad’s effort to radiate the sense of youthfulness and freedom, especially when the girl on the beach says with a smile,  “So where the bloody hell are you?.”

Unfortunately, the attempt brought adverse responses from other countries, leading both England and Canada to ban the commercial. The problems were the word ‘bloody’ and the implication of unbranded alcohol consumption from the line “We’ve poured a beer” respectively.

Consequently, Australia had to suffer unexpected degradation of its image along with a decreasing number of tourists. Maybe Australia was a bit too bloody friendly to strangers.

(Video & Pictures : YouTube,

%d bloggers like this: