As part of the V Imagen de Chile Meeting, we spoke with country brand experts Larissa Perdomo, head of the Uruguay brand, and Todd Babiak, CEO of Brand Tasmania. For them, credibility, political stability and culture are important elements that add value and attract investors.
Fundación Imagen de Chile held its 2023 meeting this Thursday at the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center. Representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as marketing and communications specialists, among others, came together to exchange ideas and learn about a key topic: how to strengthen a country brand, a fundamental asset for nations.
For Rossana Dresdner, executive director of Fundación Imagen de Chile (FICH), developing a positive international image has a direct impact on economic development.
“Our image is not only based on the quality of our wines, copper or the incredible beauty of our landscapes. Today, Chile stands out around the world for its commitment to sustainability, gender equality and diversity. These are values that define us as an increasingly egalitarian, fair and trustworthy country, which attracts more and better investments.”
Larissa Perdomo, one of the invited speakers at the V FICH Meeting, can attest to this. The head of Marca Uruguay (Brand Uruguay) has more than 20 years of experience in building the image of her country. She explains that the brand emerged in 2002, in the middle of the Southern Cone’s worst economic crisis.
“Despite being conceived as a country brand, out of necessity we started using it as a tourist brand and prioritizing foreign currency income. Then, with the support of the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we carried out country perception research; with this, we established a blueprint through a project financed with international cooperation, which later became part of the national budget. Today, after 20 years, our exports have diversified their markets, foreign direct investment indices have increased, as has the number of countries that invest in Uruguay. The number of tourists and residents also increased.”
—A few years ago, Brand Finance Nations valued the Uruguay brand at US$10 billion. How is this calculation estimated?
—According to the last measurement in 2022, we are currently worth more than US$50 billion… The calculation is quite complex; there are many variables, but what has weighed the most in the strong increase in brand value has been the country’s credibility, political stability, respect for law and trade agreements, as well as our seriousness in complying with obligations.
—This being the case, what would be the key pillars on which a country’s image must be erected in order to be attractive in the eyes of the world?
—Reliability, quality, originality and sustainability. These are the values that, in fact, are held by the new licensee companies under international LSQA certification that represent Uruguay in international markets.
The story of Todd Babiak, CEO of Brand Tasmania, is all about building value from within. An entrepreneur and renowned writer, the Canadian was at the FICH Meeting as an expert in place branding, collaborative work and storytelling. Today, with more than 500,000 partners, Brand Tasmania is an organization that promotes and inspires its inhabitants in order to generate economic, social and cultural benefits for one of Australia’s states.
—What strengths must a place show to be able to build a valuable brand?
—I have always said that culture is the engine. It is about something unique that distinguishes you; and the more different you are, the better. Of course, it helps to be a positive and hopeful people, but even this is not a prerequisite for success. It requires telling your story in a simple way, which turns out to be a true expression of who you are and what you can offer to others and the world.
—In that sense, what have been the main challenges in building Brand Tasmania?
—Disunity was and continues to be the biggest challenge. When we started researching, we understood that our work would not consist of a new logo or slogan. What we had to do, and continue to do, was tell Tasmania’s story to Tasmanians and help them extract as much value from it as possible. This is an inside-out, bottom-up strategy, and it takes longer to implement than a traditional top-down brand rollout. But if your exporters, your tour operators, your universities, your talent acquisition teams and your investment managers sing the same song, in their own words, your people and your clients will begin to understand. They’ll feel something. That’s why we use storytelling. As much as we like to tell ourselves otherwise, most of our decisions are based on emotions.