Isabella Falco, Director of Communications and Country Image at PromPeru, in this interview gives us a behind the scenes account on how the Latin American country has managed to establish Brand Peru among the most successful country brands in the region.
Isabella Falco was a speaker at the recent City Nation Place Forum in London, supported by The Place Brand Observer as media partner.
- What Brand Peru stands for, and how its meaning has changed over the last years;
- The main challenges of positioning Peru in the Latin American market;
- Which strategies PromPeru uses to increase country awareness among young audiences overseas;
- How important Peru’s “digital country brand” is for Isabella Falco’s work;
- How Peru measures success and ROI of its country branding initiatives;
- Which country branding mistakes to avoid.
Isabella, do you remember the first time you thought about Peru as a “brand”?
Yes, actually, it was when I was hired to launch the Peru Country Brand. That was the first time I had ever heard of a country being referred to as a brand, and I thought it would be the biggest challenge of my career. Needless to say, I took the offer.
As Director of Communications and Country Image at PromPeru, in your view, what does “Brand Peru” stand for?
Brand Peru became a lovemark among Peruvian nationals only one year after its launch. It is 6 years old now and thriving.
Brand Peru is a symbol of identity for Peruvians, it is a means of expressing pride in who we are and what we have as a country.
It is that special tag that marks Machu Picchu, our emblematic archaeological site; cebiche, our national dish; alpaca, our softest textile fibre; and pisco, our favorite spirit, among many other things Peruvian.
To your mind, what have been the main challenges of positioning Peru in the Latin American market?
We have been more successful in positioning Brand Peru in our own country. But the real challenge is to make it an international lovemark.
In Latin America we have made progress in building our reputation in the gastronomical field. Peru is recognized as the best cuisine in the whole region, and Brand Peru is behind that success story.
Which strategies does PromPeru use to increase country brand awareness, especially among young generations overseas?
We rely a lot on Machu Picchu. This architectural and natural World Heritage Site is one of the new 7 wonders of the modern world. It is also high up on every traveler’s list of those places you should see before you kick the bucket.
Surfing, food, bird watching, Inca culture, the Amazon rainforest are all among the attractions that we use as bait to attract tourists, young and old.
How do you measure success and demonstrate return on investment of your country branding work through PromPeru?
We measure our ranking in studies such as the Country Rep Track by the Reputation Institute, the Country Brand Index of Latin America by FutureBrand, the Country Brand Ranking by Bloom Consulting and other such research studies.
We also count millions of tourists visiting our country annually and millions of dollars worth of export products.
More and more potential visitors turn to online platforms and social media for information on destinations. How do you work with Facebook & co. to ensure your message gets through to them?
Brand Peru has over 2 million faithful Facebook followers; our social media is updated daily. Not only are we active on Facebook, we also use Twitter and Instagram. But we also keep our websites very much alive and dynamic.
Our most recent campaign, Intercambiados, was chosen by Facebook as a case study of a successful campaign that generated high levels of engagement.
Recent elections in the USA, Germany and elsewhere have shown how important online platforms and communication channels such as Facebook have become for people’s knowledge about places. How important is Peru’s “digital country brand” for your work?
Extremely important. We work with our Media Agencies to obtain the best return possible by investing smartly in the social platforms where our visitors are the most active.
Which country or destination branding projects have inspired you over the years, and helped you in communicating the Peru country brand?
As an expert in place image and communication, which place branding practices and mistakes would you advise fellow country branding professionals in Latin America to avoid?
Do not launch your country brand without first gaining the approval and support of your own people. If they agree with the brand and acknowledge its importance for the promotion of the country´s image, they will become your most enthusiastic ambassadors. But if they feel left out, they will work against the brand, deny its ability and authority to represent the country.
Various of our interviewees mentioned Peru as a successful example of country branding. In your view, what did Peru “get right” in its approach?
We started out with a launching campaign aimed at our nationals that helped us establish the brand as the one and only, perfectly recognizable, Peru country brand. This campaign was a means of showcasing the values the brand wished to be associated with: creativity, diversity, fun-loving people, great cuisine, unique culture and proud heritage.
Public diplomacy being one form of country branding, how do you work with Peru’s diplomatic corps to communicate “Brand Peru” externally?
The Peruvian Diplomatic Academy includes a course about Peru Brand. The Diplomatic service has an online tutorial about Brand Peru for its personnel abroad. And we always join forces to represent our country in all sorts of events in foreign lands.
How do you engage your citizens, to make sure their actions and stories align with Brand Peru – and the other way around?
By engaging them in the narrative of all the storytelling efforts done by Brand Peru. We position the observer not as passive, but as an active participant in the stories the Brand Peru tells about our country, our people, places and customs.
All of our online platforms and social media are designed to encourage the willing participation of both Peruvians and foreign visitors.
Thank you, Isabella.
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