A good example here is New Zealand which, since the 1980s, has transformed itself from earlier perceptions of being a relatively remote backwater which, despite its scenic beauty, was not a major global tourist destination.
Especially in the midst of a difficult economic climate in the early 1980s, partly caused by the country’s loss of preferred trading status with the United Kingdom (one of the nation’s then major export markets), the 'New Zealand Way' initiative recognized that a strong country reputation for quality would be hugely beneficial if the nation was to compete in global export markets.
Here, the massive untapped potential of the country’s natural environment was recognized, not just in terms of natural produce exports, but also for building a destination brand for tourism and outdoor sports.
The New Zealand example underlines how a simple, unified cross-sectoral vision can be enormously powerful. To be sure, the country is not unique in having an unspoilt natural environment and quality produce. But it has managed to capture the world’s imagination with its consistent branding that has put natural values firmly at its core.
Today, of course, it is not just U.S. political consultants who are blazing a trail in the industry. London, for instance, has become a major country branding center fuelled by its favourable European time zone between Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and North America; and the headquartering within the city of key global publications such as The Economist, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal Europe.
Looking to the future, demand for country branding is only likely to continue growing given the increasing complexity and overcrowded nature of the global information market place. Indeed, in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, much of which remains unchartered territory for the industry, globe-trotting firms may be on the very threshold right now of some of the most challenging work they have yet encountered.