Friday 15 November 2019

Ireland's brand value and reputation only getting stronger

Public House ad agency
Public House ad agency

John McGee

Just in case you hadn't realised it, 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Darby O'Gill and the Little People, the 1959 Walt Disney fantasy movie that set many of our dewy-eyed diaspora longing for the old country, while reinforcing many tiresome tropes about Ireland and the Irish.

While the movie, and indeed others of its ilk, may still appeal to those around the world who engage in ritual paddywhackery every St Patrick's Day, it's fair to say that the general perception and reputation of Ireland have moved on considerably since then.

A country's image and reputation on the international stage are hugely important for many reasons. They're important for foreign direct investment flows and international capital markets. They can exert considerable influence on the tourism industry while, for exporters, their country of origin can have an important bearing on their relationship with customers.

They can also help attract skilled and migrant workers, who help keep the economy ticking over.

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There's nothing wrong about a country caring about its image internationally. What is relatively new, however, is that over the past 15 years, an entire industry has grown up around the concept of nation branding, how to improve it and, ultimately, how to measure it.

While a lot of the day-to-day work is often carried out by government agencies, overseas trade missions and embassies, it's not unusual for countries to deploy armies of lobbyists, PR practitioners and marketing experts, in an attempt to boost their image internationally.

Only this week, for example, I received an invitation to talk to somebody who had just completed work on the new super-high-tech e-visa processing system for Saudi Arabia, which recently announced that it was opening its borders to tourists from 50 different countries around the world. Not on your nelly, thanks.

And then, of course, there's the growing cohort of academics, analysts and nation brand consultants who track and analyse all of this activity.

Borrowing some of the thinking and tools from the marketing world, countries can now benchmark their performance as a brand against other nations.

Two reports published this week give some insight into just how far Ireland has developed in terms of its brand and reputation on the international stage.

The first of these, Nation Brands 2019, which was published by the UK-headquartered brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance, shows that Ireland sits in 26th position in the world when it comes to the actual brand valuation it has accrued.

Using the royalty relief mechanism, a brand valuation tool, Brand Finance pulled together a wide range of data points across a number of areas, like security, trade, investment, competition, the judiciary, quality of life and the regulatory regime, and then scored them individually.

Without getting too much into the minute detail, Ireland's brand valuation comes out at $604bn (€543bn), a 12pc increase on 2018, making it the fastest-growing in western Europe.

Not surprisingly, the US ($27.7trn), China ($19.4trn), Germany ($4.8trn), Japan ($4.5trn) and the UK ($3.85trn) make up the top five in the world.

When the brand valuations are assessed on a per capita basis, however, Ireland comes in second place, just behind Luxembourg and ahead of gas-rich Qatar.

Meanwhile, Ireland also fares well in the latest Country RepTrak report, which was published this week too.

Carried out by the international Reputation Institute and the Reputations Agency in Dublin, Ireland was ranked in 10th place out of the 55 countries surveyed, up from 11th in 2018, and ahead of Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the UK. Sweden tops the rankings for the second year in a row.

Unlike the Brand Finance report, which uses brand modelling tools, the RepTrak report assesses people's emotional connection to a nation, based on a number of different things, including the environment, the government and the economy.

So let's allow ourselves to be proud and take time to pat ourselves on the back. But not for too long, because there's always plenty of room for improvement.

Independent picks Public

Dublin-based independent agency The Public House has continued its recent winning streak, picking up the creative accounts for Independent News & Media Group Limited, publisher of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and, as well as FBD's lead sponsorship of Team Ireland in the run-up to the Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo in 2020. It will roll out a new brand campaign for INM before the end of the year, while work for FBD is under way.

Tenth Man backs GoMo

The Tenth Man, the agency headed up by Ken Robertson, the former 'head of mischief' at Paddy Power, is behind the campaign by GoMo, Eir's new low-cost mobile offering.

The agency has been working on GoMo for the past 12 months and its brief was to create the brand, its visual identity, its market positioning, and the campaign to promote it, which was launched this week.

Sunday Indo Business

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