Election Results… or a Weather Forecast

The most difficult thing in Nation Branding seems to be the political differences within the country. On one hand, you want to reflect a unified image to the rest of the world and on the other hand, well, you don’t have a unified image.

As some of you may have heard, Turkey had an election on Sunday. Apart from the five people losing their lives in clashes and a major computer break down, everything went okay. The ruling party, Justice and Development Party, got nearly 38% of the votes. JDP “won” the elections, but lost nearly 9% since the general elections in 2007.

The map below is taken from a Turkish daily newspaper Zaman and it pretty much summarizes Turkey’s biggest weakness in Nation Branding.


The Social Democrats (illustrated in crimson) are only able to win in Western coastal cities. My hometown, Izmir, had 30 positions and although JDP got 38% of national votes, they got 0 out of these 30 positions. In short, apart from lacking a unified image, Turkey has a “stratified” political structure. South-eastern region votes for the Kurdish nationalist party (Democratic Society Party – Demokrat Toplum Partisi – DTP)(light blue). The rest is divided between the nationalist (Nationalist Movement Party) and conservative JDP.

Time to think, time to figure out a unifying vision for the Turkish nation.


Meeting in 10 hours…

I have a meeting in less than ten hours with my thesis committee. I am expected to present my thesis proposal in an academic way! Here is a blog-friendly version:
Thesis Outline
My proposed title is -for now- A Strategic Approach to Nation Branding Process . I know it sounds dull, I still need to find a catchy expression to add. I am working on it. My main objective is to apply the strategic planning and managerial processes of the business world to nation branding. In this aspect, a government is no different than a global for profit business organization.

Simply speaking, I propose to have three main parts in my thesis:

1-Definition: This part will include theoretical discussions over branding and nation branding. I will try to further evaluate and elaborate these terms and to find out what/who are the main players in this process.

2-Tools to Improve: So, how can one improve a brand’s nation? Three important tools are public diplomacy, traditional diplomacy and international advertising campaigns of the countries. And then we have two key players: Media and Foreign elements. One can have a perfect strategy and control over the three important tools but it is not possible to control media and foreign elements (i.e. negative comments by other states, international organizations).

3-Strategic Planning: This is the main part of my thesis. We know what NB is and what tools can be used to improve it. So, let’s get down to the business. Let’s write a business plan! This part will discuss how – if possible, of course – one can create a strategic planning process for nation branding.
This is it for now! Wish me luck!

Nation Branding Index Loves Turkey!

Recently, I ran into this beautiful, optimistic, and Turkey loving report. This report is modified for Switzerland and uses Nation Branding Index 2008 results – in other words, it is based on scientific data.

Some highlights from the reports:

  • The panel study took place in 20 countries.

    Western Europe/North America: U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Sweden
    Central and Eastern Europe: Russia, Poland, Turkey
    Asia-Pacific: Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia
    Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
    Middle East/Africa: Egypt, South Africa

  • Turkey ranks 36th in overall ranking – out of 50 countries listed.
  • 38th in Exports!
  • 37th in Governance! A short explanation here. According to GfK’s website governance measures public opinion regarding the level of national government competency and fairness and describes individuals’ beliefs about each country’s government, as well as its perceived commitment to global issues such as democracy, justice, poverty and the environment. – No further comment.
  • 28th in Culture!
  • 37th in People! – Hey! This is not fair! I thought we were educated, friendly and open – minded.
  • 31st in Tourism! – So, I believe the people from those 20 countries are not interested in seeing an emperor riding a horse towards a subway train! (why the hack do you use a subway in tourism commercial anyway!)
  • 36th in Immigration/Investment. – Hey, respondents “be fresh, be cool”. Well, as I have used this slogan towards my target audience, Turkey will rank top 10 in 2009.
  • More comments will follow after I discuss the issue with my mermaid friends.

    Reality TV in Nation Branding

    What about using reality TV for nation branding? By reality TV I don’t mean the “beautiful” TV shows, but I mean the footage from daily life, interviews with people… Will it help with nation branding?
    I was searching YouTube to find such videos, however I couldn’t find any… Let me present the two videos I have found.

    Looks nice, doesn’t it? Well, bad news, there are no flying ships or semi-ghost emperors riding horses or mermaids in Turkey. Tourism is a part of nation-branding and public diplomacy, but these messages are not enough. In order to present our “society”, our “country”‘; we need -what I tend to call- Reality TV.

    Here we go, footage from daily life. Turkey is associated only with the Muslim identity. The majority of Turkish population is indeed Muslim, but we are also proud of the fact that Turkey is a secular democratic country.

    This footage proves the point that the opposite of successful nation-branding is not a nation without any brand. If a nation does not brand itself, other entities will do it.
    So, time for a YouTube channel? I guess so.

    Nation Branding: Turkey

    Currently, I am working on my thesis proposal, I spend hours and hours on the internet, trying to find branding theories and case studies. To my surprise, I ran into a case study from Turkey (link is in Turkish). I have gone through the website, there are many prominent social figures involved in the project. Basing my claims on the presentation they have, many talented work on the project for two years and came up with a highly structured branding plan for Turkey…

    The Association for Public Relations was supporting this project, I believe this is why at the end of the day, the project produced four main branding “slogans” for Turkey (to be delivered to EU audience):

    • Turkey is a young power for you
    • Be fresh, be cool
    • It is time to get together
    • It is time to make business

    Although, these are acceptable messages; if we are going for a national brand – we need more than just an image of a “good” business partner.

    Eventually, an esteemed Turkish national brand will indirectly affect the business. However, if the brand is defined on business, it will be extremely difficult to expand the effects of a good brand to political and social areas.

    Perfect recipe for me:

    There is a need for branding in Turkey. I am a strong advocate of grass-roots public diplomacy attempts. I believe individuals can create a “change”. All my research is focused on nation branding, implementing marketing principles to political communication and public diplomacy. I am enthusiastic about these subject and I can take risks! For the first time in my life, I will do my best to start a project by myself without an institutional sponsor!


    For a similar project for Israel, please take a look at this link.

    I will keep posting about my progress!

    Just a definition

    “Public diplomacy can be characterized as a blurring of traditional distinctions between international and domestic information activities,  between public and traditional diplomacy, and between cultural diplomacy, marketing and news management.”

    Rhiannon Vickers

    My hosts in D.C.

    As a part of our Fulbright seminar in D.C., an amazing couple hosted me and two fellow scholars for dinner.hostsFrom left: Idrissa Fane(Mali), Efe Sevin(Turkey), Alejandro Rico(Colombia), Daisy, Mary Beth Marklein, Peter Kunkel

    Apart from Peter’s amazing culinary abilities, the quick city tour, Mary Beth’s own Fulbright experiences in Romania and Daisy’s curiosity; we enjoyed a lively discussion about the effectiveness of foreign Fulbright program. As Dr. Snow (yes, I have to cite her in every piece I write) “millions of  U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to host these visitors”, I wanted to learn more about their perceptions. Both of our hosts were enthusiastic about hosting us for a dinner, but what do they think about the fact that their tax dollars were spent on graduate students?

    Peter spent a few years in Colombia, employed by the U.S. government and Mary Beth was a Fulbright scholar in Romania. In other words, they both had first hand experience about “cultural exchanges”. They were happy about the fact that people wanted to visit U.S. and somehow had the opportunity to see the culture themselves.

    During that dinner, we have discussed the importance of exposure to other cultures. Frankly speaking, exposure to a different culture, being aware that there are other people living in other countries is an important step. And public diplomacy can be focused on this very noble aim, creating communication bridges between people!

    Once again, I would like to thank Mary Beth and Peter for their incredible hospitality!