Iraq: Branding the Nation

By Lisa Knight, Creative Director & Founder of The Brand Foundation.

National branding is a vital strategic activity undertaken by governments worldwide, in emerging and established nations, the impact of which goes far beyond tourism — ­ it has the power to dramatically alter the economic landscape and attract major foreign investment, dramatically impacting the lives of its citizens.

How does a re-emerging nation get it right without resorting to modern-day propaganda? How can Iraq weaken the popular global perception that doing business in Iraq is simply too risky? Firstly, doing business in Iraq must become less risky and the future Iraq brand must align who it is with who it says it is.

What role do Iraqi people believe their country should play in the world? Just what does Iraq stand for? Should Iraq ignore its recent past & tuck it away or should it be compared to its current standing and utilized as a tool to demonstrate progress? How far back does one look, pre-Saddam, pre-invasion, what about the country’s rich heritage?

As a result of Iraq’s troubles, past and present, the world is watching, waiting; mass media coverage is a given, as interest in what shape Iraq forms in the future is mammoth. The stage is set, but what’s the message?

Back in 2006 Iraqi Kurdistan positioned itself as ‘the other Iraq’, the peaceful, and relatively troop-less Iraq. Regardless of how successful that campaign was, surely Iraq could do without further comparisons that stoke the fire of instability.

Despite the efforts of the government over the last 2 years, maybe the time isn’t right for a fully-fledged Iraqi tourism campaign and perhaps a revitalized brand Iraq is a decade away, but nonetheless the dialogue needs to begin and ­ the debate needs to be had.

When looking to the future of brand Iraq, perhaps looking back to the distant past isn’t such a bad idea?

What’s your vision of brand Iraq?

Lisa Knight is Creative Director & Founder of The Brand Foundation, a UAE-based branding agency that specialises in the property sector in emerging markets. Prior to that, Lisa led the creative team of the UK’s governing political party, firstly under Rt. Hon Tony Blair and latterly, Rt. Hon Gordon Brown. Lisa’s career spans 16 years and numerous industries: arts & entertainment, business & finance, fashion, travel, youth, sport, and international development.

7 Responses to Iraq: Branding the Nation

  1. antony January 31, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Iraq may not be ready yet but Iraq’s friends are. It would be good to see the debate Lisa Knight calls for start in the embassies of UK,USA,France,China, Germany,Italy and the many other nations who are now committed to Iraq’s prosperous and peaceful future.

  2. Maher Dosoqi February 3, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    Hello Lisa,

    Very inspirational article indeed.

    I believe for Iraq to reposition it’s brand reputation is to work on the growth of Education & Arabic Literature.

    Iraq was known in the Arab region for being a source of scientists & highly educated people.. this is what we used to perceive about its brand.

    I am not old. I still recall the Arabic version of the Sesame Street & the Voice-Overs of the great cartoon characters I used to watch when I was just a kid.. and how Iraqis have contributed in the TV & Media industry back in the 80’s.

    After the invasion of Kuwait, my little ears could differentiate between the old & the new voice-overs of the cartoon characters done by Syrians & Jordanians like me.

    The brand is not about the look, the color or the moto.. It’s about the tone that is being perceived.

  3. Haytham Al Yassin February 4, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    I am an iraqi with 25 years experience in advertising. branding iraq is my dream. regrettably there are no jobs to brand iraq. If the opportunity arises i would like to be invited as i will work it whole heartedly.

    There are so many opportunites to brand iraq, both internally and externally.

    Branding Iraq is not a one year plan. it is at least a 5 year plan.

    So if there are opportunities or requirements for Branding Iraq. Please do not hesitate to contact me as i would love to serve my country of Origin. Branding the nation is unifying the nation.

  4. Mazen February 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Lisa, facinating stuff.

    Very interesting and yes I do think it may be a little early for Iraq btu definitely not too early to be discussing. I lived in Iraq for about 5 years between the age of 13 and 18 years of age so enjoyed the “good times” as they call it and would love to be part of the bran team for Iraq.

  5. Bakir Lashkari February 13, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    Regarding lessons learned drom the past,the current situation in Iraq is progressing but slowly slowly.The future of Iraq is prmising, however is still nog known yet. The missing united future futureplan,united strategy and mission of all fracions is the main constrains above all efforts which have been put into action for a better Iraq,The Other Iraq.Despite the economical development in some regions in Iraq,the corruptions and restricted power to some is one of the main obtacles facing the young generation in Iraq.The branding Iraq is not uneasy thing to do,but is a dream which all Iraq’s must start with. Democracy for all Iraq without having and sharing the stability, prosperity,freedom 4all,the values to be adapted by all, is a wasting of time. Iraq needs to maximize the efforts on economical scale of balance,abondening the corruptions at all levels,sharing the power,encourgaing young poeple for higher eduaction and resolving the unemplyoment.Iraq needs to get rid off all inherited religous and tribale the “so called leaders”but hand over to the new democratic Iraq 4all poeple.The New Branding of Iraqi nation could be: Iraq is 4all regardless of religion,race,gender based on transparancy and open democracy & freedom,jobs are 4all and not 4few!

  6. Shelley A February 13, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Hi All, I’m new on here and glad to be a part of the conversation .

  7. […] This blog was first published in Iraq Business News. […]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Iraq: Branding the Nation « The Brand Foundation's Blog - August 10, 2011

    […] This blog was first published in Iraq Business News. […]