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.