What exactly is nation branding?

Nation branding is any advertising or public relations effort by governments or corporations seeking to impact a country's brand. Every country has a brand whether or not it is actively thought of in that way.

Whenever a country is mentioned in an article or conversation, it conjures up certain associations and images and influencing those perceptions is enormously important in today's competitive world.

Governments worldwide are increasingly realizing how much a nation's brand impacts a country's economic and political prospects and are beginning to use the same tools that companies have been leveraging for years including, as one element, paid advertising. Of course marketing a country is different than selling a new soda drink but the principles are the same: attracting the attention of the target audience, communicating a specific, credible message and ensuring that the message is repeated enough times that it has impact. The Post's reach of both the influential audience in Washington and, through its website, influentials around the world is a ripe target for such efforts and our sales representatives can help show best practices in this emerging field.

How important is nation branding to a country's success?

It's no coincidence that the US owns 53 of the world's top 100 brands* even though many of those products are made or even designed outside the U.S.

Whoever controls the brand yields the highest revenue in the value chain and the lack of branded products in lesser developed countries constrains their growth. Sources: *Fortune, August 1, 2005; Interbrand Survey

Despite an increasingly interdependent, boundary-less world, a country's image still has dramatic impact: In a Fast Company-IMB Business School poll in February, 2006, 43% of Americans agreed that they'd be less likely to buy a computer from Chinese-owned Lenevo than from its predecessor IBM even though it is the exact same product! All things being equal, the product, service or country that has the stronger positive brand awareness will reap the most economic and political advantages.

Simon Anholt in his book Brand America includes an even starker example:

"In the early 1990's, Americans bought lots of Toyota Corollas (which were quite expensive) and not very many Geo Prizms (which were quite cheap) even though they were exactly the same car and made in the same factory. American consumers believed the Japanese cars offered better value than American cars, so they bought the Toyota."

Why is nation branding important in Washington, D.C.?

The decisions made by Washington's influential leaders have global impact on an almost daily basis. This network of power goes beyond the political class and includes the many thousands of people who work in Washington, D.C. for America's leading associations, media companies and think tanks.

Why are newspapers- and their websites- the best places for nation branding campaigns?

Newspapers- and their websites- are uniquely suited for the job of building relationships between readers and country brands because research shows that influentials rely on newspapers the most for an understanding of world events, public affairs and trends; 62% of newspapers readers said they do nothing else when reading a newspaper, which is extremely high in today's multitasking world. (Source: Newspaper Association of America Study, 2005).

What is unique about the Washington Post advertising environment?

The Post and its website are where leaders and influentials worldwide go to learn about their world and expect to act: 70 percent of Washington Leaders stated that they take action in direct response to public policy advertisements including discussing the issue or topic, going on an advertiser's website or sending a letter to a colleague. (Source: 2005 Washington Leadership Study, QSA Research & Strategy). The Washington Post reaches more than 10 times as many adults in Washington as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and nine out of ten Washington leaders.

The Washington Post web site extends your reach to 8 million monthly unique visitors, 84 percent of whom live outside the Washington area and 2.8 million outside the U.S. This audience is influential and active: 40% have written or called an elected official in the last 12 months. (washingtonpost.com Site Baseline survey, 2005).

How can the Washington Post help launch your own nation branding campaign?

The Post has a dedicated staff expert in nation branding and ready to assist you in crafting and presenting your country's message to Washington and the world. Please contact Amer Yaqub at yaquba@washpost.com to discuss your communication needs in more detail and also obtain a free copy of a presentation on the "The Top Ten Rules for Nation Branding" culled from over a decade of best practices in this emerging field.