Nation Branding: Shaking Off the Korea Discount (Knowledge @ Wharton)
Establishing a recognizable brand is an essential goal for nearly all marketers. No matter the type of product sold (good or service) or the type of market targeted (consumer or business), building an identity for a product is almost always required. But does branding really apply to all types of marketing? For instance, does the need for branding extend to public sector marketing such as efforts to market a country?
Well, yes but only to a point. For instance, a country can engage in efforts to promote specific attributes of the country. This can be seen in the tourist industry when countries spend heavily to present an image as an enchanting vacation spot.
However, trying to establish a brand to be applied to an entire country is a much greater challenge. Why? Because to brand effectively requires the marketer possess a high degree of control over all elements of the marketing mix. While a marketer may be able to control the promotional side of marketing (e.g., advertising), it is practically impossible for the marketer to control other elements, such as the product itself. For example, if a marketer is trying to brand a country as a high-tech center of innovation, then somehow the marketer needs to make sure that is happening. Of course, in a democratic, free market society this type of control is not feasible. While it can be encouraged, it cannot be forced.
Despite these issues, this story reports on what is happening with South Korea’s efforts to establish a brand. As noted in the story, research suggests South Korea has a long way to go to reach its branding goals. However, their multi-prong approach for developing a favorable image is an interesting strategy. If successful, this could be a model for other countries.
As Euh maintained in his speech, countries with a positive global brand image are more likely than others to attract foreign direct investment. Moreover, companies from countries with positive branding are treated favorably in international business transactions and need to invest less in marketing their products abroad.
One key measure of the effect of branding is to measure what comes to people’s mind when they hear a particular name. What comes to mind when South Korea is mentioned?
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