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Brand building tips

Rebranding of nations: Cyprus30 Apr

On April 14-15, I was a panel speaker at the Global Russia Business Meeting in Limassol, Cyprus, organized by Horasis and hosted by the government of Cyprus. In my talk, I planned to address the necessity for Cyprus to stay positive, and use the collapsed economy as a rare chance to improve the country’s brand in the long term. Perhaps a rather surprising and unusual approach to branding in the midst of the emotional aftermath of the banking system collapse. But for better or worse, my unusual message stood out from the crowd — which happens to be the very purpose of any good brand.

A COLLAPSED BANKING SYSTEM

In a way, the timing of the meeting, aimed at fostering bilateral economic relations between Cyprus and Russia, could not have been more difficult. With a freshly collapsed banking system, and sovereign long-term foreign currency credit rating sinking into junk status, Cyprus was about to host a high-level gathering of prominent Russian business leaders – many of whom had just lost millions of Euros as a result of the ‘haircut’ procedure imposed in agreement with the EU and International Monetary Fund. The chance of this bilateral meeting, organized in the midst of a huge economic crisis, running smoothly, seemed rather small at the onset. In fact, I wondered if it would go ahead at all.

GOVERNMENT OF CYPRUS DECIDES TO GO AHEAD WITH THE CONFERENCE

However, the government of Cyprus decided to go ahead with the conference. Brilliantly chaired by charismatic founder of Horasis, Frank-Juergen Richter, the conference gave a chance to the Cypriot government to express itself to the community of Russian business people in a transparent and open way. It was clear that the message the Cypriot government wanted to pass to the Russians, was one of regret for not having been able to safeguard the wealth and trust of those who had invested into the country, and also one of commitment. The commitment of the government to take a very broad look at the underlying causes of the economic collapse, and seek realistic measures in order to fix it.

TOP-DOWN COMMITMENT  – A SECRET INGREDIENT OF ANY RE-BRANDING PROJECT

In the business context, the top-down commitment of senior management is a crucial element which can make or break any major re-branding project. As far as nations go, re-branding, or reshaping an image of the country vis-a-vis the minds and hearts of its target audience, also requires full commitment of its government to start thinking differently. As soon as there is commitment to start fixing one’s own problems, chances for a successful outcome of a re-branding project increase tremendously.

Although rarely on the radar screen of governments dealing with the urgency of major economic crisis, branding can actually help any government keep a broad perspective of what needs to be attained in the long term. Whereas its main preoccupations in the present situation may be of a remedial nature in the short term, and mostly directed at reforms of the banking system and tax regime, the government of Cyprus would benefit from embracing some of the following principles of branding a nation:

1) Stay positive about the future

The world loves success stories about countries emerging from economic crisis. Whereas it’s crucial to address the most urgent things first, positive morale of a good outcome is of great importance in any rebranding project, or crisis communications.

2) Identify your Unique Value Proposition

Just like any product or company, any country has something that makes it unique in the eyes of its target audience — be it tourists, or potential investors. The Cypriot government would need to go through a major brand audit exercise, whereby it would collect all of the elements that could be considered unique for its brand, and decide on a shortlst of most powerful ones to be communicated to the world.

3) Identify your target audience

Whereas the main audience in the context of the conference consisted of Russian investors into Cyprus, the government of Cyprus should identify different categories of its target audience, which may include investors from other countries, EU, international credit rating agencies, tourists, and others.

4) Create a unique brand personality and brand positioning

Based on an in-depth brand audit, and having identified its unique DNA, Cyprus should then translate this into a credible and inspirational brand personality.

5) Roll out the new brand positioning through a high-impact communications campaign across offline and online channels

Depending on the previously identified target audience, select channels for rolling out a brand communications campaign

Whereas many governments still tend to view re-branding campaigns simply as advertising initiatives aimed at fostering growth of the tourist sector, it’s worth looking at country re-branding from a different, more strategic, angle. In the case of Cyprus, a re-branding project would be highly beneficial as it would help the government to identify the main areas requiring immediate fixes, allowing at the same time to keep a broad perspective of exciting opportunities that the future holds for this beautiful sunny island.

Brand building tips

The Branding Bandwagon14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s day — to all those who celebrate it, and also to those who don’t. Because even if the meaning of Valentine’s day does not play such an important role in your life, I bet you have noticed its existence today. Many, many times. (more…)

Brand building tips

The power of brand endorsements06 Dec

Trust builds brands

If some of my readers are into consulting, or any other type of services business, no doubt they are very well aware of the power of recommendations. A former client making a referral about you to a prospect, a powerful recommendation of your skills and achievements on LinkedIn, Klout +K’s that you collect — any of these can signal trust, an essential element for building good brands. Likewise, if you are an author, the praise given to your new book by other authors or famous people is crucial, and can boost the sales of your book. (more…)

Brand building tips

Clearly defined brands influence purchasing decisions03 Dec

A strong brand can benefit your business in many ways. It sets you aside from the competition. It builds customer loyalty. It eliminates search costs for people who look for products, but don’t have enough time to sort through the clutter of product information available, both off and online. (more…)

Brand building tips

Use (any) images to build your brand21 Nov

Images play a powerful role in our decisions to buy many products. Have you ever caught yourself choosing between two magazines on the shelf of your local press shop just on the basis of which has prettier pictures on the cover page? Or paying just a bit more for a package of tea, if it’s pretty, or a bottle of shampoo, if it’s more attractive than the one standing just beside it? I guess the honest answer would be a firm “yes” for most of us. (more…)

Brand building tips

Design thinking vs analytical thinking02 Nov

Image source: Flickr, SOCIALisBETTER’s photostream

 

Funky brands have one thing in common as far as their brand strategy goes — design. (more…)

Brand building tips

The founder of Green & Black’s shares the story of his successful brand launch04 Jul

If you’ve ever launched a new product on the market, you must know that this can be a very daunting task. You’ve created a new product concept, a name, and thought of a pricing and distribution strategy. And now, you need to make sure that your product is actually bought, and that you begin to turn a profit. (more…)

Brand building tips

A good metaphor for good (and bad) branding15 Jun

Maybe you’ve seen this image circulate on Facebook over the past week or so. It was originally posted by the page called English Quotes, and then spread virally amongst many of my Facebook friends. I have no idea who the author of this image is, and if I knew, I would certainly give her a good mention.

 

For me, this image is a visual metaphor for good branding, and bad branding. On the left, you see what good branding should look like: lots of work in the background, laying a strong and healthy foundation, and not always seeing the results right away. Good branding takes time, but when it’s taken care of well, it brings its fruit (or vegetables) when the time is ripe.

 

Bad branding is “fluffy” branding, just like you see on the right. There’s lots of activity taking place on the surface, with no strong, reliable roots that back it up. It’s all about “make up” and appearances, with no long lasting strategy that lies at the core of the business.

 

Make sure that you water your carrots well, then your brand will grow strong and last longer.

Brand building tips

Confused about your brand positioning? Stop advertising05 May

If I asked you what kind of associations you had about Nutella, the sweet and gooey spread, oh so full of calories? (more…)

Brand building tips,Schmoozing

Building Russian brands30 Apr

Last week I participated — as a panel speaker and attendee – in the Global Russia Meeting hosted by the government of Luxembourg. Organized by Horasis, an independent think tank based in Zurich, and dubbed as a “world economic forum for emerging markets” , the event brought together many prominent business and political leaders from Russia, Europe and the United States.

 

Addressed through different panels, discussions about Russia focused on such topics as entrepreneurship, business growth overseas, innovating the Silicon-valley way, and of course, branding. Selected as one of the panelists for the discussion entitled Building Russian Brands, I shared my views on what would make Russian companies successful internationally.

 

RUSSIAN BRANDS GLOBALLY

According to (more…)

About Olga

Olga Slavkina is an international brand and marketing strategy expert based in Brussels and managing partner of SCHMOOZY FOX. Originally from Latvia, Olga was educated in the United States, where she was a Fulbright student at The Fletcher School (Tufts University), and Spain. She holds an MBA from IE Business school in Madrid, which holds the No. 1 position in the 2012 Financial Times ranking of European business schools.

Fluent in several European languages, Olga works with companies around the world to help them launch new products and services, reposition existing ones, and make them relevant and meaningful to their customers.

Olga’s expert opinion on branding and marketing has been featured in Financial Times, TechCrunch, Personal Branding Blog and other publications. Olga’s concept of Funky Brands™ has been nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award 2011. Olga tweets as @schmoozyfox.

Get in touch

 

SCHMOOZY FOX is based in Brussels, Belgium and serves customers internationally.

 

Email: olga (at) schmoozyfox (dot) com