My last Funky Brand Interview with the founder of the Belgian brand BShirt was an example of what I would call country branding in action. Associations, concepts and even stereotypes that are consistently attributed to a country can form a country's brand. Country branding initiatives are becoming increasingly popular around the world, with governments spending sizable budgets on shaping and promoting a desirable country's image to the external world.
Sometimes, brands tap into brand associations of countries where they originate, and use them to their advantage. BShirt has based its concept on the brand of Belgium. Many Italian fashion and accessories brands use a "Made in Italy" statement as a proof of artisanal quality and sense of style. French perfume brands almost always remind us that they are, in fact, truly French creations. In product branding which uses countries' images to support its positioning, a country brand becomes a meta brand -- an overarching, superior concept that adds usually positive associations to other brands that want to relate to it.
Speaking again about Belgium and its brand, let's take a step further away from the repetitive beer and chocolate (though I must say, it's all great stuff brought to perfection). For me personally, Belgium is all about design. I am glad that this brand quality of this country was stressed during a recent design week in Milan, during which a team of Belgian designers presented their work under the slogan Belgium Is Design.