All countries can be branded, provided one can find the essence of the nation. Wolff Olins begins the debate with a national branding exercise for Germany, removing stereotypes and clichés in the process
Left The real Germany is hardly conservative. Berlin's 'Love Parade' is the biggest street party in the world. Below Germany is also not a conformist nation: it has more nudist communities than any other country. This is a diverse yet united nation, the theme which identity consultants Wolff Olins picked up on in its German branding exercise.
T H E R E I S no doubt that a nation can be branded like a company. The corporate brand, as a part of identity, helps external audiences identify the company. A national brand, similarly, helps by conveying one country's image to othersparticularly useful when it comes to exports.
Additionally, a national brand should help raise the profile of a nation. In an era where some corporations are as powerful as nations, if not more so, then a national brand should attempt to create value in the relationship between state and individual, just as a corporate brand would.
The German national image has helped it in many areas, but it was often based on stereotypes, which were not always positive. The cold, aggressive images hardly expressed the reality of Germany. While they may have suited the export of German robotics, they can hardly be useful for organizations such as Nivea, a German cosmetics company with a reputation for excellenceand for being anything but German.
Similarly, the traditional British national imagestuffy, old-fashioned and locked in the pastfails to reflect modern Britain. Exporters such as Jaguar wishing to emphasize the quality and performance of their cars want to associate with a newer Britain, and have turned away from "Britishness" in their campaigns because of incompatible national connotations.
Earlier this year, ZDF, the German television network, approached identity consultants Wolff Olins to create a national brand for Germany, as part of its Total Global series. The first instalment of the series, 'Goodbye Deutschland', presents the debate.
The national brand at work