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On Thursday 30 May, we attended a working breakfast in ESADE – Madrid, in which Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner for Brand Spain, outlined his project.
Are the Spanish aware of the importance of Brand Spain?
The answer is no, but perhaps more importantly, Do the Spanish understand the significance of Brand Spain / Country Brand / Made in Spain? And, do they understand the advantages of good international standing?
First, let’s look at what the term Country Brand means. Simply put, it is the way people from abroad perceive a particular country, in this case, Spain.
A more comprehensive, and slightly more complex, explanation involves long-term government policy. What guarantees the continuity of Brand Spain is that it emerged and grew from a broad consensus that goes beyond political upheavals, and the aim of the project is to improve the image of Spain both at home and abroad in the interests of the common good. In a globalised world, a good country image is an asset that strengthens a country’s international political, economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological standing. This is how Brand Spain high commissioner Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros describes it.
Improving Spain’s image can have economic benefits. An example of this is Made in Germany, where consumers are prepared to pay more for German products because of the country’s reputation for quality. From this we can see that a good reputation can be used in our case to channel investment, obtain better conditions for loans, or to capitalise on the risk premium-to-image ratio (the better the image, the lower the risk premium).
Can a country change its image?
The answer is, yes. A good example of this is, again, “Made in Germany”, a brand that can be traced back to the start of the industrial revolution in England. At that time, German manufacturers copied English trademarks and used them on their products, even though they were considered to be of poorer quality. In order to protect the home market, the English parliament passed a law by which all imported German products had to bear the “Made in German” stamp, and what started off being a sign of bad quality had, by the turn of the century, become synonymous with excellence due to the efforts and perseverance of the German manufacturers.
With this example in mind, the first conclusion we can draw from the high commissioner’s comments that the brand image of a country is based on two components:
- Structural: made up of aspects that endure down the years and which, if the need arises, change slowly. Two of the most important structural components are the history and values of each brand.
- Circumstantial: this component is built up of news and reports coming from different channels. The aim is to eliminate any negative aspects as quickly as possible to ensure they do not affect the structural component.
According to Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, Brand Spain has divided this initial process into three stages:
- Find out what others are doing, in other words, benchmark.
- Discover the best practices.
- Understand the country experience, and how to achieve brand supremacy.
The conclusions to be drawn from these three stages are:
- We will see medium- to long-term results, maybe in one or two decades.
- We must focus on internal developments, in terms of training, information and dissemination, both at home and abroad.
- We have to take this on as a nation, as a country committed to integration in which we all have to get involved and play our part, and above all, avoid political connotations
The first stage of the programme involves:
- Diagnosis: Analysing different indexes, following qualitative criteria (life-style, appeal, cultural values, etc.) and quantitative indexes (capacity to organise, institutional administration… in other words, all aspects that add weight to investors’ decision making process). Studies carried out by the high commissioner’s office have shown that broadly speaking Spain is ranked between ten and twenty on the international scale. In global terms, this is pretty close to the real position: based on its macroeconomic parameters, Spain should be in fifteenth place in the world ranking.
- Objective Where are we headed? Our aim is to secure the position of Brand Spain by maximising its image through certain values.
- Tools: to help with this difficult process we will make use of a number of tools, a particularly useful example of these being the audiovisual industry abroad, which does an excellent job of improving Spain’s image and has helped define an editorial line and a range of content aimed at leaders of opinion in other countries.
The following are the five attributes by which Spain intends to be identified:
- Traditional – Modern: a combination of both, because while we don’t want to turn our backs on our history, our culture, and in short, our traditions, we do want to contribute modernity – let us not forget Spain’s top quality contribution to technology: of the 10 most important construction projects currently underway worldwide, 7 are being built by Spanish companies.
- Strength – Solidarity: We are still part of Europe, a continent that is the object of both envy and desire, that signifies a certain standing and importance… let’s show that our economy is solid, let’s capitalise on our assets, for example, our language, Spanish, which is expected to be the most widely spoken language in the world by 2050. Another of our highly prized assets is our solidarity: we lead the world in organ donation, we have standard-setting institutions such as the institute for the blind, the ONCE, and we have a long history of social development and cooperation.
- Diversity: a characteristic that can be seen all around us: culture, language, climate, fauna, flora… as a country we are a source of wealth; we spark curiosity, and have a wide appeal.
- Flexibility: we live in a changing world, and one to which we have to adapt constantly. Over the past 50 years, Spanish society has demonstrated its capacity for political, economic and social transition, and the country has undergone a profound transformation.
- Reliability: We need to show by our actions that we are trustworthy and reliable, that we are a good ally, and that we fulfil each and every promise we make.
This is the moment to start creating a country brand to be admired, so let’s begin by starting to know who we are, let’s believe in ourselves and let the world see who we are, so that they can also believe in us, and in our brand – BRAND SPAIN.
Different points of view, different discussed issues, different approaches… Same reality, same focus… Not in the brands, but in people, our values and a promising vision for the future.