The term Nation Branding, its links to public diplomacy and the various existing theories and approaches to it have been subject to much discussion ever since Simon Anholt (as he’d now say unfortunately) first coined the term.
In this interview Nadia Kaneva – Associate Professor at the University of Denver, USA – shares her thoughts on the theory and practice of nation branding. Nadia Kaneva’s critical stance is a timely reminder for place branding professionals that developing and managing a national brand or country reputation is a highly political and delicate affair, whose success requires much more than ‘merely’ marketing skills.
- Nation branding from the perspective of critical social theories;
- How the competition for audience attention is quite unequal, depending on the size and wealth of a nation;
- How nation branding and public diplomacy will move in the direction of greater audience engagement and relationship-building with multiple stakeholders;
- Why young researchers should step outside of their disciplinary comfort zones and engage with scholars across disciplinary lines.
Nadia, do you remember the first time you heard about nation branding?
Yes, I remember it very well. It was in 2005 and I was still a doctoral student. I was conducting research in Bulgaria on the commercialization of media and culture since the collapse of socialist regimes in the region.
One journalist I was interviewing mentioned in passing that the British Council in Sofia was running a project with the title “Branding Bulgaria,” which was supposed to develop a comprehensive brand strategy for the country. The project had generated a lot of public attention and it instantly piqued my curiosity.
This conversation was taking place at an outdoor cafe and I remember that, as I listened to the journalist, a child was begging on the street corner not far from us. This scene created a powerful cognitive dissonance in my mind and I simply couldn’t forget it.
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