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Marketing a country is far more difficult than any product or service. This is because there are many political, social and economical factors which shapes the image of a country. Countries get rare opportunities to market themselves on the world stage. China is one of the few nations which was successful in taking advantage of the opportunity while India lost the same.

The Beijing Olympics in 2008 showcased that China which was an emerging economic super power, could also mesmerize the world by hosting the best Olympics ever- measured by any yardstick. This was one of the major steps in rebranding itself as a major player in the world. Drawing parallels with any other marketing campaign which includes multiple events, it carefully planned its rebranding exercise. Events like Shangai World Expo in early 2010 and the Asian games in November have reinforced the overall exercise. There are other smaller events like Air show 2010 where it launched its first ever commercial aircraft C919 as a rival to the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing. China is a great example to learn how a country/product/service can market or rebrand itself with proper planning and long-term view.

At the same time we can see how India lost the opportunity in showcasing itself to the world. The Common Wealth Games 2010 was the only major international event India hosted after Asian games way back in 1982. India’s growth was one of the best in the world for the past decade and a lot has changed since the Asian games in ’82, but why did it fail to rebrand itself as a country of not just ‘Techno coolies’ but a nation which can organize international events compared to any other developed country. Unfortunately everything went wrong from the stadiums getting delayed to the various corruption scandals that hijacked India’s bid to showcase itself on the world stage. In the end, the bad press left a lasting impression of India’s corruption problem rather than the successful hosting of the games

There are many lessons to be learnt from this set back.Firstly, marketing a country is not an overnight exercise; it takes careful long-term planning. China did not achieve this overnight, it planned and executed its branding strategy for the past two decades with utmost commitment. Secondly, public relations plays a very important part in putting across any message on a global scale.

I feel that countries should be run like large corporations when it comes to branding where there is a proper marketing division which manages the countries brand image on a global level. This would help showcase the good while reducing the damage of the bad.


January 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm 1 comment


Malaysia, Truly Asia. Incredible India. 100% Pure New Zealand. Happiness on Earth, Thailand. Ultimate in Diversity, Indonesia. Uniquely Singapore.

nb Today countries are laying a lot of emphasis on developing infrastructure, attracting investments and improving the quality of life of its citizens. Tourism is an important tool in achieving this. The above taglines promote tourism by bringing into context, what a country has to offer to its visitors. The tourism industry contributes almost 9% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Every country wants to grab a chunk of this GDP. In the past Europe was the most famous destination for world tourism, but now many countries are coming into the limelight with their focus on promoting tourism. They want to create a unique brand identity for their country and attract more tourists. If a country is widely known as a modern, secure, clean and efficient state then the chances of attracting tourists is more. Some of the successful countries which have created unique brand identities are Singapore, Dubai, India, Switzerland and France among others.

nb_rankingDifferent countries use different strategies to promote their brands. It can be through their people, products, historical events or other well known entities synonymous to that country. The tiny South East Asian island country of Singapore is well known as modern, secure and efficient state. It launched “Uniquely Singapore” for its branding campaign in 2004 and promotes itself as the bridge between the eastern and western worlds. To a large extent, it has been successful in building a positive brand image of Singapore as a nation through this campaign. Countries also use major sporting events like Olympics, Formula 1 racing, Commonwealth Games, etc to promote and build their image. For example, China used the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to show case its brand. India promotes its rich culture, diversity and varied geographies with the tagline of ‘Incredible India’. African countries promote their wildlife to attract tourists while countries like Dubai showcase themselves as shopping destinations.

Any country should be cautious in branding or rebranding its image and promoting the same. If there are no visible changes or signs of development in sync with the brand identity it promotes, that will negatively impact the brand image of a country.

Overall today most countries around the world are trying to differentiate themselves by revamping their image and building a positive brand for their nations.

November 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm 3 comments

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