Abril 13, 2023 #Imagen de Chile

V Imagen de Chile Meeting Three lessons for creating a Country Brand

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Fundación Imagen de Chile this year brought together three of the world’s leading place branding experts, Canadian Todd Babiak, Spaniard Gonzalo Vilar and Uruguayan Larissa Perdomo, who contributed their knowledge for building a successful country brand.

. What happens when three of the world’s leading experts in place branding come together? The result is a day of valuable lessons for all those who are looking to promote a positive country image to the world. This is what happened at the V Imagen de Chile Meeting, held on April 30 at the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center. The event brough together three renowned specialists in place branding: Gonzalo Vilar, partner and global director of Bloom Consulting; Larissa Perdomo, manager of the Uruguay country brand; and Todd Babiak, CEO of Brand Tasmania. Each of them described their transversal, diverse and collaborative positioning strategies based on their different experiences.

Lesson 1: Let’s talk about what we are

Although numerous lessons were learned at the Imagen de Chile Meeting, one of the key messages provided by the experts was to speak about what characterizes Chile and its people in the eyes of the world.

In this regard, Spaniard Gonzalo Vilar spoke about the factors that affect people’s appreciation of a country: “This perception is shaped, in the first place, by the government, its foreign policies, the mitigation of global issues, the economy, its products and services, culture, sports and natural landscapes, the education system, its society and values, the welfare system, health and public safety.” For Vilar, the ability of a country to attract tourists, import talent and capture more and better foreign direct investment comes from this, as well as the capacity to expand markets for the export of products and services.

“This combination, added to the culture and identity of a country, is what constructs the image of a country abroad,” stated the CEO of Bloom Consulting, who described Chile’s position as “very positive.”

“The pillar on which Chile’s image is sustained is the Chilean people themselves; you must be the base on which brand strategies are developed for attracting talent, investment and tourism. In this sense, the Made by Chileans campaign launched by Fundación Imagen de Chile is a step in the right direction.”

Lesson 2: The importance of credibility

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

The specialist spoke about the key aspects that have made her brand one of the most valued in the region: “We present ourselves as a reliable, credible country around the world, with a quality offer of products and services that promote sustainability.”

Perdomo stated that their national branding work began two decades ago in order to survive the ravages of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The crisis worsened in 2002, when Uruguay entered a deep economic recession.

“Out of necessity, we started as a tourism brand to boost income from foreign currency. Today, after 20 years, the markets for our exports have diversified and the rates of foreign direct investment have increased, as well as the tourists who visit us. According to the latest Brand Finance Nations measurement, our brand value exceeds US$50 billion.”

Lesson 3: It’s okay to be different

The conference was closed by Todd Babiak, CEO of the Tasmanian brand. He spoke about his work promoting the image of this Australian island “from the inside out.” This is unlike most examples of place branding, which focus on promoting a place or country abroad. Babiak explained that his work has focused on strengthening the identity of Tasmania’s inhabitants who have been culturally mistreated for centuries, which has affected their pride and self-confidence.

Babiak investigated the history of the Tasmanian people and their indigenous origins, and retrieved very specific unknown stories, such as the one that explains how they became one of Australia’s largest whisky producers more than a century ago. He also focused on promoting some of the region’s differences in order to boost foreign currency income and generate more and better jobs. Tasmania today is increasingly known for its paradisiacal landscapes and for being a quiet, clean and sustainable place that promotes sports and disconnection.

“Tasmania isn’t for everyone; it’s for those who are looking for calm to rest, disconnect or create,” said the place branding expert. “I’ve always said that culture is the engine; it’s about having something unique that distinguishes you, 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 to tell your story, which turns out to be a true expression of who you are, and of what you can offer to others and 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 focusing his expert gaze on Chile, Todd observed: “More than the country, the Chilean identity is one of the main things that motivate us to invest in or visit the country. For me, it’s culture that drives the economy, and the more we understand about our culture and what makes it unique, the better.”


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