Can a country be branded? However paradoxical it seems, countries compete against each other in a similar way to multinational companies. They compete to achieve more political power, to attract investments, to make their economy grow, to develop talent and of course to seduce potential visitors (tourists). This is why a country brand is extremely important, although this is different to a commercial brand since a country cannot be changed overnight (unlike a company, which can suddenly decide to change its logo, its product, its target, etc). However interested we are in organizing the Olympic Winter Games in Spain, there might be a slight problem with climate change and the usual lack of snow in our (not very high) mountains. And this is something which is not going to change, at least in the short term.
There are thousands of factors which shape a country’s brand: history, climate, culture, languages, geography, cities… and of course its people and their lifestyle, which constitutes an attribute of increasing relevance. Most countries have remarkable sites, museums, natural parks, beaches, mountains… In a context of intense competition built upon those “inherited” factors, people can contribute to shaping a country’s brand with their lifestyle… and make THE difference.
Let’s have a look at Denmark’s example. A small country with not easily recognisable attributes (the little mermaid and…?) is currently using a habit of its people (cycling mobility) to introduce himself to the world. This is at least what they offered in their pavilion in Expo Shangai 2010:
And this is not an isolated initiative. Copenhaguen has become a mecca for bike lovers and is the founding land of the Cycle Chic movement, which seems to be successfully spreading all over the world. By simply looking into themselves and identifying a remarkable, particular habit, Danes have found an interesting story to tell the world. As simple and as successful as that…