This could appear to be a blasphemous thought to many and ofcourse what I present is only a hypothesis. Though selling country as a brand is not a new idea. Countries have been doing this for ages to attract tourists or top brains and talent from across the world, however selling it as a brand to its own citizen might be a proposition that hasn’t been explored much. On a serious note, by building brand equity for itself, a country could help improve unity among people, boost morale, boost self-image and this could have positive effect on the economy. I thought this was a radical idea, however a quick search on the internet proved me wrong. The concept of Nation-Branding for domestic consumption has been doing the rounds for the past decade or so and the Government in conjunction with the elite have been entrusted with the onus of building the brand equity to drive loyalty of its citizen.
Country of origin or Country of birth is often a very emotional and personal affair. We believe our dedication to our country of birth or origin is beyond reason and to be absolute. Patriotism has always been a matter of passion and emotion and treated ahead of logic and reasoning. What if we were to change this status quo and just as a hypothesis look at this equation of Nation/State – Citizen, relationship from the view point of a Product and Consumer viewpoint? A sudden chain of thought that got triggered while attending a short course on marketing and branding.
What struck me was, what if we start treating a country and it’s policies as a product and the citizen as the consumer of this Product? What if, like in the case of any other Product, brand loyalty is driven not by compulsion but by choice ! A brand is supposed to have an USP and should build its brand equity on the basis of the value proposition it offers to the consumer. The experience that a consumer gets by choosing a product drives his loyalty towards a particular brand. Now let us replace brand with country/state and it’s policy, also we will replace consumer with citizen. A country needs to drive patriotism by voluntary choice of the citizen or atleast, it should appear so. A country should make it clear as to what it ‘stands for’ and what its values are, and what it has to offer with respect to quality of life and opportunities of growth. These, form the core of its USP. A country has the responsibility of making it clear to its citizens what benefits it has to offer if they were to choose to be its citizen and how it would be a value addition to their respective lives. The quality of life one gets in a country and experiences one has should drive a person’s loyalty towards a country. What I would not explore here is the concept of competing brands and a consumer (citizen) having the choice to switch brands depending upon desired quality of life and the value–proposition. (does happen now).