April 12, 2023 #DemocraticChile #DiverseChile #SustainableChile

V Meeting Image of Chile: Three lessons to create a Country Brand

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This year FICH brought together three of the world's leading experts in place branding, Canadian Todd Babiak, Spaniard Gonzalo Vilar and Uruguayan Larissa Perdomo, who have provided tools for building a successful country brand.

What happens when three of the world's leading experts in country branding meet? The result is a day of valuable learning for all those who seek to position a positive country image to the world. This is what happened at the V Encuentro Imagen de Chile, held on April 30 at the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, which brought together three renowned specialists in place branding: Gonzalo Vilar, partner and global director of Bloom Consulting; Larissa Perdomo, manager of Marca País Uruguay and Todd Babiak, CEO of Brand Tasmania. The three, from their different experiences, gave an account of their cross-cutting, diverse and collaborative positioning strategies.

Lesson 1: Let's speak from who we are

Although there were many lessons learned at the Image of Chile Meeting, one of the keys provided by the experts was to speak about what characterizes Chile and Chileans in the world.

Here, Spaniard Gonzalo Vilar spoke of the factors that influence the appreciation of a country: "This perception is shaped, in the first place, by the government, foreign policies, the mitigation of global causes, the economy, its products and services, culture, sports and natural landscapes, the educational system, its society and values, the welfare, health and public safety system". In Vilar's opinion, this is the result of a country's ability to attract tourists, import talent, attract more and better foreign direct investment, as well as expand markets for the export of products and services.

"This combination, added to a country's culture and identity, is what builds a country's image abroad," said the CEO of Bloom Consulting, who described Chile's position as "very positive".

"The pillar where Chile's image is sustained are the Chileans themselves; you must be the base from where brand strategies are promoted, both for the attraction of talent, investment and tourism. In that sense, the Made by chileans campaign launched by Fundación Imagen de Chile is along the right lines".

Lesson 2: The Importance of Credibility

The second speaker was Larissa Perdomo, brand manager of Uruguay, considered one of the three most valuable country brands in Latin America, along with Chile and Costa Rica.

The specialist spoke of the keys that have made her brand one of the most valued in the region: "We project ourselves as a reliable, internationally credible country, with an offer of quality products and services that promotes sustainability," she said.

Perdomo said that the national branding work began two decades ago, to survive the ravages of the 1997 Asian crisis, which worsened in 2002, when the country entered a deep economic recession.

"By necessity we started as a tourist brand to boost foreign exchange earnings. Today, after 20 years, the markets for our exports have diversified, foreign direct investment rates have increased, as have the number of tourists who visit us. Today, according to the latest Brand Finance Nations measurement, our brand value exceeds 50 billion dollars".

Lesson 3: It's okay to be different

The conference was closed by Todd Babiak, CEO of the Tasmanian brand, who spoke about his "inside-out" image work for this Australian island, as opposed to the majority of place branding cases that focus on promoting a place or country to the outside world.

In his work, Babiak said that he had to strengthen the identity of its inhabitants, who had been culturally mistreated for centuries, which affected their pride and self-confidence.

Babiak researched the history of the Tasmanians, their indigenous origins, and rescued very particular and unknown stories, such as the story that turned them, more than a century ago, into one of the largest whisky producers in Australia. It also aimed to enhance some of the differences of this region that would boost foreign exchange earnings and generate more and better jobs. Today, Tasmania is increasingly recognized for its paradisiacal landscapes, as a quiet, clean and sustainable place that invites sport and disconnection.

"Tasmania is not for everyone; it's for those who are looking for calm to rest, unwind or create," said the place branding expert. "I've always said that culture is the driver; it's about something unique, that sets you apart 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 a simple way of telling your story that turns out to be a true expression of who you are, and what you can offer to others and to the world. That's why we use storytelling. As much as we like to tell ourselves otherwise, most of our decisions are based on emotions."

And bringing his expert eye to Chile, Todd observed: "More than the country, it is the identity of Chileans that is one of the main reasons that motivates us to invest in or visit the country. For me it's cultures that drive the economy, and the more we understand about our culture and what makes it unique, the better."

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