Wally Olins On Nations As Brands

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Are nations also brands? For the late Wally Olins, nation branding was key to economic growth in a globalized world, writes Mark Lowe in an obituary dedicated to the statesman and co-founder of advertising agency Wolff Olins, published in The Drum.

“Olins argued that just as Bismarck invented the values that define modern Germany (‘efficiency’, ‘engineering excellence’, ‘hard work’) so nations that want to escape from historic stereotypes can do so, if they take their brands seriously. New Zealand’s shift from post-colonial backwater to service and tourism hub is a good example of this.”

Nation Branding – Can Brand and Nationhood Go Together?

“Olins’ ideas were controversial; for some critics, the word ‘brand’ has superficial implications that make it unworthy of the lofty idea of nationhood. But Olins rejoined that countries have always branded themselves, it’s just that it hasn’t always been called branding.”

“His crucial point is that brands cannot be created from nothing. Instead, they must reflect truths about the subject. In this, nation branding is no different from the branding of products or services, but it is just as important.”

You don’t change people’s perceptions of a country with advertising. You change people’s perceptions by finding the truth, finding an idea that embraces that truth and putting it through everything. (Olins)


Via Are nations also brands? | The Drum. Picture showing opening ceremony of 2008 Olympics in Bejing, China – US Army (creative commons)

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