An Exclusive Research on Nation Branding

By Akshay Alagh PGDPC 13

A concern for image and status among individuals is nothing new, but the emergence of Nation Branding as a branding concept has seen new light in the last ten years. The last decade has seen countries increasingly developing newer methods to manage their reputations. The concept of Nation Branding in India is relatively new and in its nascent stage. India itself is still grappling with being branded as a ‘nation of elephants and snake charmers’. Being seen globally as a rising power India needs a brand strategy to help promote it as a socio-economically rich culture, helping wash out previous stereo types.

In this regard, Mr Akshay Alagh, DSC alumni – PGDPC XIII has attempted an exclusive study in methods used by several countries in branding and image promotion and has thereafter made suggestions to help develop the Nation’s Brand strategy.

N.B.A.M – Mix of all the 3

The National Brand Architecture Model has been used by Akshay as the basic premise upon which an in-depth analysis of how nations brand themselves. The current national branding platforms include:

  1. Tourism- Like- Incredible India Ad, Atithi Devoh Bhavah Ads, Tourism Awards etc.
  2. Foreign Direct Investments
  3. Talent Attraction
  4. Short Run Campaigns
  5. The Country of Origin (COO) Effects
  6. National Media

A qualitative primary research was undertaken to understand levels of awareness about Nation Branding in India & India’s position in respect of this. The research was, categorized into patterns as the primary basis for organizing and reporting results. Methods under this approach included the following:

  1. Participation in the setting
  2. Direct observation
  3. In depth interviews, and
  4. Analysis of documents and materials

In addition, focus groups discussions and key informant interviews were conducted with 50 respondents.

Based on the primary research, the following conclusions were arrived at:

  • Approx. 78% of the participants were aware of the term – Nation Branding.
  • When asked about the existence of Brand India (including negative and positive aspects) – 96% agreed that Brand India exists.
    – Approx. 3 % felt that Nation Branding was nothing more than creating a Buzz for the country in the Global Platform
    – 1% of the participants felt that Nation Branding meant strategizing the Policies of the Nation
  • Almost the entire (100%) participant population agreed that ‘India’ being seen as a successful brand is possible.
  • Among all the promotion campaigns, Incredible India had the Highest Recall

Therefore, based on an in-depth study of the above concepts including primary research, the following suggestions were made to Brand India.

  • Development of a Nation Branding Council
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) approach

An attempt at emotional rather than rational approach.
Now is the time for countries to work hard on their branding. Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change, and a large part of his campaign success rested on his declared determination to re-engineer and restore America’s global image. This area of emotional as opposed to rational appeal won him millions of votes.

Need to differentiate from others.
India needs to differentiate itself from China, ASEAN, Japan, the ‘Far East’, China and other clusters and countries that are competing for investment, talent, tourism and exports in order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

Development of a strategy
The brand challenge for India is to develop a strategy that presents a uniform national identity alongside internal diversity. India’s diversity can be advantageous for areas such as tourism, and India’s rising industries such as automobiles, IT and pharmaceuticals are powerful brand image vectors; its corporations strong brand ambassadors.

Image is not built by advertising and promotions but via astute policy change management based on the needs of ‘customers’. Greater ease of doing business, less bureaucracy, visa facilitation, improved security and improvements to infrastructure are among the policy issues that countries, including India, need to pay attention to.

Policies and diplomacy change a country’s national image, not tactical communications campaigns. There is a strong argument to suggest that India needs to develop a brand strategy now.

let-us-call-you-back-for-free copy