John O’Reilly’s article for Eye; ‘The floating signifier’, explores what makes a nation’s identity, or a national brand; stating that “the biggest significant difference between a nation’s identity and brand identity is time” (O’Reilly, 2004). He elaborates this point by using examples of countries such as Lichtenstein. Previous to 2000, the European country was known for it’s banking, however after suspicions of money laundering, Wolff Olins was hired to rebrand the entire country.
Olins new logotypes, symbols and motifs that represent Lichtenstein rebranded the country to be identified by it’s manufacturing of chocolate.
“I don’t know whether I’d stash my cash there, but I would put my trust in it to get me a bar of chocolate with 75 percent cocoa” (O’Reilly, 2004).
O’ Reilly, 2004, suggests Lichtenstein has done more than re-establish a level of trust due to the new branding of the country; “A nation-brand that makes you dream of chocolate is literally sensational”. This example highlights the strength quality branding can have, and it is something used by every country to encourage tourism, money and therefore power.
An example discussed in class was the United Kingdom’s use of the Queen in it’s national brand. The United Kingsom is democratic, with a parliament, yet still has a royal family, together being contradictory…
The real power lies with the government, however a cultural power is held by the Queen. The Queen acts as an icon for the brand of the United Kingdom, bringing in tourism and helping the economy. After her reign, she is replaced with another member of the royal family, as is tradition and so the brand changes, yet stays very much the same. All countries having a founding myth, an iconic moment, a tradition; the royals being the most notable of the United Kingdom and it is this which becomes the basis of the brand.
Before our next session, we were asked to research the campaign of a different country; look into how it represents itself, and how that transfers into the history and mainstream media, as well as what contests that country’s brand.
My chosen example is Italy’s national brand.
When thinking about Italy; religion, food, Renaissance art and romance are the immediate impressions that come to mind. This is how the country represents itself, it’s national brand is made up of its rich culture and history. Our mainstream media portrays Italy like this, online, on television and in film. Italy is most commonly associated with culture and romance, however contesting this national brand there are underlying issues in Italy which are not portrayed by brand, nor in the mainstream media. When searching further into Italian culture and ‘romance’ you will see countless articles and advice pages particularly aimed at women, warning them of Italian men living upto their Lothario reputation, “women in particular may find that men will try it on with exasperating insistence… women living in Italy should take extra care when travelling alone and always leave a bar or club with a friend” (Movehub, 2015).
O’Reilly, J. (2004) The Floating Signifier. Available at: http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/the-floating-signifier-text-in-full (Accessed: 12/01/16).
Movehub (2015) Things You Should Know Before Moving to Italy. Available at: http://www.movehub.com/italy/things-to-know-before-moving-to-italy (Accessed: 12/01/16).