Improving the world
Building and nurturing Israel’s brand.
Crucial for nations to be proactive in building their brand identity. A country’s brand capital is an integral part of its commerce, including exports, tourism, and direct foreign investment. "If you will not take the proactive approach of defining your own identity rest assured your competition will do it for you."
Nations have brand images just as products do. For a nation, its brand is its perception in peoples' minds -- the perception of its people, policies, politics, and products. The perceptions of a country's capabilities and resources are often borne out of reality, but are sometimes borne from incorrect assumptions. Regardless of whether the perceptions are correct, however, they can have real outcomes for the nation's economy.
BAV Consulting, which owns the Brand Asset Valuator® database (the world’s largest and longest running study of consumer brand perceptions) has found that nations can see significant positive results when they invest in their brand equity. Since 1993, BAV has been tracking perceptions of nation brands based on a "Brand Asset" metric that measures brand strength and brand stature using 48 different personality attributes. In partnership with the Wharton School, BAV recently embarked on a large project to better understand the exact relationship between key financial indicators and national brand equity -- the return on nation branding. At the highest level, BAV has found that there is a 62% overall correlation between Brand Asset and GDP.
In the case of Israel, Ido Aharoni has embarked on a concerted effort to effect positive changes in Israel's brand. Because he believes that the experiential dimension is the most effective tool for brand building, his goal is to bring people of influence, members of the media, and influencers in social networks to visit Israel and see the country and its people for themselves.
The idea of engaging in nation branding for Israel emerged in the days after 9/11. Officials discovered that the state of Israel had not independently studied its performance as a brand. Instead, Israel relied on studies performed by outside think tanks, institutions, and companies whose interests did not consistently match those of the nation. When the officials started studying independently the Israel brand in the early 2000s, they discovered a gap between perception and reality. The Israel brand was universally and predominantly associated with tension, conflict, and confrontation. There was little knowledge or awareness of the many positive dimensions of Israel.
Utilizing the BAV Model, Israel has begun to close the gap between the perception of the nation and the reality. The most prevalent perception of Israel still relates to the country's geo-political hardships — unhappy regional circumstances that cannot be denied. Nevertheless, there is wider global recognition of Israel as a bastion of creativity and inspiration, from high tech to philanthropy to Hollywood. Israel's nation branding strategy is working.
Israel's example demonstrates that countries concerned about their economies need to be concerned about their global images. Countries should carefully watch to see how they are perceived around the world in terms of brand equity, and make efforts to change the perceptions that impact that equity. Changing course can have a direct impact on economic prosperity.