Interview with Guido van Garderen on the Grand Challenges of Branding and the Ultimate Course on Brand Strategy

A former Strategy Director at Interbrand, Guido van Garderen now combines best practice and academic insights in the courses “Building brands and Influencing behaviour” at the University of Amsterdam and “Brand Strategy” at the London School of Economics (LSE). We sat down with him to hear more about his work and to pick his brain for latest place branding insights and advice.

Guido, do you remember what (or who!) got you interested in place branding?

I was always interested in the development of countries, in particular in Africa. During my MPA at Harvard, I noticed that both Michael Porter in his class on cluster development and Ricardo Hausmann in his class on economic inequality focused on the enabling environment, after which they adopt a logic of “If you build it, they will come” [from “Field of Dreams” ed.].

Sure enough, countries need to offer upon the expected, but that doesn’t make them automatically a destination of choice.

I felt there was a perspective missing in economic development. Governments only focus on how they compare to each other, thanks to influential reports, such as the WEF Global Competitiveness Report and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business.

However, if you want to attract FDI, tourists and talent, then you also need to know how to stand-out. To make my point, I wrote the paper “The Brand Advantage in Economic Development” and joined Interbrand to advocate for Nation branding.

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