How to brand a (sleepy) nation

How to brand a small nation to grab attention on a global stage? Flaunt your peculiarities, says Finland and Norway. Even if those turn out to be national steretypes you at first didn't want to emphasize.

The value of silence

When a hundred marketing experts recently gathered to rebrand Finland, the goal was to rid the country of its reputation as being quiet. After some discussion, they realised that a reputation for being quiet just might be a good thing.

According to this article in Nautilus, the resulting Country Brand Report highlighted a host of marketable themes, including silence. “Silence is a resource,” said the report. “In the future, people will be prepared to pay for the experience of silence.”

The Finnish Tourist Board released a series of photographs of lone figures in the wilderness, with the caption “Silence, Please.” A watch company, Rönkkö, even got in on the act with the slogan: “Handmade in Finnish silence.”

Dalene Heck’s blog post on Hecktic Travels suggests the idea resonates with visitors. “Much of the shoreline is dotted with homes, most are empty, summer play things of boats and the like are pulled in and hidden away. The lake was ours to enjoy, with nothing but the creak of blade on ice to unsettle our peace.”

Powered by nature

Finland isn’t the only country to shun trends and focus on what it does best. Green tourism plays a central role in reflecting Norwegian values and giving visitors a glimpse into what sustainability really means for people and business, according to the International Trade Forum.

Norway’s tourism brand ‘Powered by nature’ has underpinned this concept for several years. “It clearly reflects what we aim to achieve, which is sustainability in a long-term perspective. Tourism in Norway provides enriching experiences presenting a unique nature, rich history, local cultures and food experiences”, said Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway.

It seems authenticity is the key, rather than inventing a marketing slogan based solely on trends or buzzwords. These comments in the New Economy demonstrate how Norway got this right: “Public right of way along the fjord, in the forests and the city’s many parks and green spaces ensures access to Oslo’s unique nature experience for visitors and residents alike. With nature as a source for inspiration, recreation and pure physical energy, Oslo and its people are truly powered by nature.”

Find your unique story

That thought is backed up by place brand specialist Julian Stubbs, who was one of the people behind the controversial branding of Stockholm as the “Capital of Scandinavia”. He says the key is to find what makes your destination stand out from the crowd.

“Most tourists want similar things in a destination, such as plenty of decent hotels and places to eat, lots of history and culture, things to see and do, all wrapped up in a safe environment in which to do them all. But these are nothing unique and many cities offer these benefits. To truly stand out, a city needs to find its unique story and then tell it to its target audiences in an original, compelling and believable way.”





This Is Your Brain on Silence

Contrary to popular belief, peace and quiet is all about the noise in your head.

Hecktic Travels

Silence, Please

Silence is a resource. It is an invisible force for good, although an oft-forgotten and under-utilized one.

International Trade Forum

Branding Norway with sustainable tourism

Green tourism plays a central role in reflecting Norwegian values
and giving visitors a glimpse into what sustainability really means
for people and business.

The New Economy

Powered by nature

Norway is blessed with rich natural resources and a strong economy. Stian Berger Røsland examines how Oslo is helping shape Norway’s future role in the world economy

Place Marketing: Can cities be brands?

The best brand strategies always dig deeper into the history and culture of cities, to discover their archetypes, their soul, their identity, and their reality.