Fabiana Mariutti on Brazil’s Place Brand Identity and Country Image

Meet Fabiana Gondim Mariutti, who explores place branding and public diplomacy in Brazil and Latin America through a theoretical lens and hands-on approach. Her background combines a strong academic foundation with practical insights into place branding, country of origin effect, intercultural communication, business strategy, and consumer behaviour.

In this interview she offers an enlightening perspective on the multifaceted aspects of Brazil’s complex place brand, blending academic research with practical experiences.


  • Brazil as a land of natural resources and creative people, facing its own set of challenges.
  • The complex identity, contrasting perceptions, and reputation Brazil holds abroad.
  • The nuanced view of Brazil as a country with a leisurely global image.
  • Approaches to enhancing Brazil’s image through place branding strategies.

Fabiana, can you tell us about your entry into place branding and your focus on Brazil?

My journey into place branding began with my Ph.D. research at Leeds Beckett University in England (2013-2017), funded by CAPES Brasil. I was captivated by the way countries like Brazil are perceived abroad. My interest developed into a desire to understand and support the development of Brazil, and to encourage its 5,570 cities to adopt strategic branding and marketing based on the branding strategy principles and international business knowledge I had acquired.

My first paper on Brazil’s image abroad, drawing on Simon Anholt’s principles, was presented at a place branding conference in Poland in 2014. The following year, at another conference, I had the pleasure of meeting the late Professor Heather Skinner, who became a perennial source of academic inspiration. It is to her memory that I dedicate this interview, may she rest in peace.

My awareness of international students’ perceptions of each other’s countries began even earlier, during my senior year as an exchange student in the United States (1990-1991). Being a third-generation descendant of mixed European immigrants—Italian, Portuguese, French, and Dutch—who settled in Brazil around 1880, I recognize my connection to Brazil through the French or Dutch sailor who married a local from the Amazon Region. This rich and diverse heritage has led me to appreciate cultural melting pots worldwide, the uniqueness of countries, and the distinctiveness of human beings since my childhood. It also encouraged me to explore Brazil’s identity (focused on tourism) for my master’s thesis, back in 2012.

In your thesis about Brazil’s reputation in the UK, what findings intrigued you the most?

My thesis revealed that Brazil is multifaceted in its international perception, carrying a dichotomous reputation. While Brazil is celebrated for its culture, sports, and creativity, it is also acknowledged for grappling with serious issues such as economic and social inequality, violence, and governance challenges. This juxtaposition of positive and negative views contributes to the complexity of Brazil’s image on the global stage, where vibrant highs and significant lows coexist, encapsulating a nation of both remarkable strengths and profound challenges.

Notably, in addition to agribusiness and industrial products, Brazil is positively associated with its aerospace components, summer fashion, and accessories, which enjoy global recognition. Creativity emerges as a pivotal and enduring strength among Brazilians.

How do you ensure your teachings on place branding have a real-world impact, particularly with regards to Brazil?

In my teaching, I consistently strive to connect theoretical concepts with real-life examples, particularly those pertaining to Brazilian cities and the country at large. I utilize case studies and foster discussions around the unique branding challenges Brazil faces, allowing students to understand the practical application of their learning.

Additionally, I participate in academic panels covering various themes, including undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. I’ve been invited as a guest speaker at conferences, universities, master classes, and workshops both in Brazil and internationally, addressing audiences in universities across England, Portugal, and Switzerland.

As an internationally-oriented, theoretically-grounded, and qualified higher education lecturer, I aim to inspire the teaching and learning process by enriching students’ experiences. My extensive knowledge of theory and practice in the business realm enhances students’ academic endeavors, particularly in their monographs or dissertations.

Furthermore, I have collaborated on manuscripts in English with researchers of diverse nationalities. In 2021-2022, I served as a guest editor for a special issue on Place Branding for the Brazilian Journal of Marketing – Revista Brasileira de Marketing. My leadership roles extend to being a track leader and coordinator at various ANPAD Brazilian conferences, including the 3Es – Strategy Conference, the EnANPAD – Brazilian Business Conference, and the EMA – Marketing Conference.

My work has been published in leading journals on place branding, such as Place Branding & Public Diplomacy and the Journal of Place Management and Development, as well as in other periodicals, conference proceedings, blogs, and related websites. I am also a co-founder and volunteer researcher for iii-Brasil, a weekly news coverage index tracking the international press’s mention of the country.

In 2024, I am set to publish a chapter on Brazil in the Handbook of Public Diplomacy and serve as a guest editor for an International Relations journal.

What do you perceive as the biggest challenges and opportunities in branding Brazil?

A major challenge in branding Brazil lies in balancing its vibrant and diverse image with the actual issues faced by our cities and states. However, this also presents an opportunity to showcase Brazil’s rich heritage and diverse culture to the world. The cultural influence of Brazil’s diverse regions is recognized globally. It’s crucial to address critical issues while simultaneously promoting Brazil’s unique qualities.

In addressing the realities of Brazil, a step back in place branding is often necessary. The actual conditions of the country and its cities cannot be completely masked by flamboyant and colorful brand communications.

Additionally, for place brands that represent countries, regions, or cities, establishing a robust brand involves more than just visual identity and branding strategies. It requires addressing the historical, territorial, social, cultural, environmental, economic, diplomatic, and political aspects, all of which are complex and interconnected.

Managing a country’s brand extends beyond government agencies and consultancy firms to include the contributions of active individuals, professionals, and multidisciplinary teams. It demands a deeper, more serious engagement with the realities of cities, addressing their primary challenges, demands, and problems.

These challenges are integral to the development and management of institutional capabilities. Diplomatic bodies, known for their competence, organization, and proactive mediation, play a crucial role.

Therefore, the essence of branding, in any form, is about shaping the attributes and cultivating unique associations with the brand that contribute to building a favorable and consistent reputation.

How do you see the future of place branding in Brazil?

As Brazil, a relatively young country, celebrated its bicentennial anniversary (1822-2022), it has been undergoing a multifaceted transformation over recent decades, spanning geopolitical, economic, social, cultural, and environmental aspects. It’s essential to maintain our attributes, focusing on both existing resources and forward-looking, maintenance-driven approaches.

I believe Brazil’s place branding will significantly evolve with the advancement of digital technology and global connections. It encompasses more than merely enhancing Brazil’s image; it involves a deep understanding and resolution of our nation’s challenges. Effective branding will require collaborative efforts between government, businesses, and communities to construct an authentic representation of Brazil.

The potential of place branding initiatives lies not only in addressing citizen needs and human rights concerns but also in managing the territory, including tackling environmental destruction, crime, and corruption.

Building a reputation over time should focus on the nation’s name and potential, the quality of its products and services, political trustworthiness, and the wellbeing of its citizens.

For a country like Brazil, place branding initiatives should be integrated into local projects from the outset, founded on strategic planning with public-private partnerships at both national and international levels, and should concurrently promote and brand its communities, regions, cities, and the country as a whole.

I’d like to conclude our discussion with insights from three esteemed researchers in this field that have shaped my views of the topic. Robert Govers, in his interview stated, “Hopefully, in the future, governments will start looking for more intelligible solutions instead of writing it off.” That’s something I very much agree with, as not engaging with country branding or taking care of negative brand images is not a good option.

Heather Skinner, in her interview emphasized the importance in developing countries of “expanding economic growth through more inclusive business models, developing human capital via education, training, and skill development, and building institutional capacity across all relevant public, private, and non-profit organizations.” This holistic focus on sustainable development illustrates that the impact of place branding can – and should – go beyond just economic development promotion.

Lastly, I find myself particularly resonating with the interrelated concepts of “Place Branding and Public Diplomacy,” as expressed by Simon Anholt, who introduced the term “nation branding” and connected it with public diplomacy. For Anholt, nation branding encompasses the overall national image and public affairs, effectively serving as a unique form of diplomacy engaging society as a whole. His perspectives have profoundly influenced my understanding and approach to place branding and public diplomacy in Brazil.

Thank you, Fabiana, for your insightful perspectives and valuable contributions to the understanding of Brazil’s place branding.

Thank you very much for the opportunity, fico agradecida!

Connect with Fabiana Gondim Mariutti on LinkedIn. Explore her book on Country Reputation: The Case of Brazil in the United Kingdom on Amazon.


Join us at the intersection of research and practice in place branding. TPBO spotlights impactful place brand stories, from showcases to our flagship yearbook. Learn from leaders in our Who is Who World Map. Connect with us on LinkedIn for insights and join our mailing list for the latest place brand impact stories and strategies.

- Introducing: World's Best in Place Branding -spot_img

Latest articles