In a recent interview with London based Monocle Magazine, I explain the ABC’s of how to market a nation brand given my consulting work with the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles.

This post was edited in October of 2020 to include commentary on how the covid-19 pandemic affects the brand image of nations and what they can do about it.

Why the exercise and what are the metrics? The purpose of the survey is to provide Monocle readership with an index of the world’s nations as they compete for the hearts and minds of public perception.

In a globalized world competing for resources such as labor, tourism dollars, investment, and cultural leverage, it pays to be respected and admired. Soft power studies provide a barometer in the way nations stand to gain or lose from its image broadcast internationally. As a way of strategic planning, it may provide clarity as to what nations must do to:

1. Keep a good name among the nation brands of the world.

2. Resolve in order to dispel limits to its reputation.

However, as scholar Simon Anholt points out, we must be careful not to assume we can simply market our way to global affinity.

“National images cannot be created through communications
and cannot be altered by communications.” – Simon Anholt

A nation cannot simply hire the best marketing and PR company to tidy its image or create a false sense of prosperity and stability. And as a matter fact, many countries face the problem of being known for only stereotypical images leaving competitive advantage on the table due to ignorance.

País Tropical

Let us take Brazil as an example. Former President Lula’s time was marked by a period of growth, and social progress before he was ousted amidst a bribery scandal. Following his term we see tense political environment, a return to conservative rule echoing the dark autocratic past sung about in the songs of Chico Buarque. Political violence. Pandemic denying. As the article states – a “Reversal of Fortune.”

Let’s now take a step back. When you think of this country what comes to mind? For the average person in years past, this question brought images of football stars, beaches in Rio de Janeiro, samba, and yes, as of lately – professional surfing. And for this reason perhaps they won the hearts of Stan Getz, fans that pack stadiums from all over the world, and make teaching Brazilian music in places as far as Helsinki a worthwhile venture.

2020 and Beyond

In just the short time from the writing of this article in Monocle, we have seen an even greater reversal of fortune, unfortunately. And so, as an update to this article, I share what was, and what continues to be tent pole opportunities for the country that everybody wants to love.

Soft power excerpt from Monocle Magazine

 Monocle Magazine Cover