After more than a decade of championing the term “Nation Brand,” seasoned policy adviser Simon Anholt, believes the phrase might have been a mistake.
Speaking at the iDEA Herald Design Forum, Anholt wanted to draw a clear line between marketing a product and upgrading a country’s image.
This is because the meaning of nation branding was being distorted to be compared to advertising, which is the last thing Anholt wanted to say.
“If a country wants to be admired and recognized, don’t advertise a country like selling a product. Nations, cities, and regions are judged by what they do and what they make, not by what they say about themselves,” he said.
To clarify, Anholt said what he advised was a “grand strategy,” and not brand strategy.
In short, since most people are not internationally minded, policymakers should come up with ways to make people overseas care about what the Korean government does, in a natural but strategic manner.
The easiest strategy is to make contributions to the global society, he said.
“People in Europe don’t care about what’s happening in Seoul. They care about what goes around in their community and their home. And nobody cares when you just shout out how great you are. Making a contribution to humanity is the way to turn their eyes toward you,” the policy adviser added.
In an increasingly borderless and complex world, the globalization process has caused a fast rise in global problems in both size and intensity. Universal concerns now include terrorism, human rights, climate changes and land mines.
Against such a backdrop, the adviser believes it is the best timing to make the world notice how benevolent and benign Korea is.
The Korean government in recent years has stepped up assistance to developing countries, and has even become a member of an exclusive club of international donors. The country also has sent out troops to various parts of the world to join global peace-keeping efforts.
“Slow and steady effort is the only way to automatically earn a better reputation. Korea’s doing well in that sense, but making those efforts noticeable to the world should come next,” Anholt said.
Since 1996, Anholt has been advising over 40 governments on how to build a better reputation and image.
By Monica Suk (email@example.com