Measurement Post in PlaceBrandObserver.com

As of last month, I started contributing to the Place Brand Observer as an Academic Observer. Basically, this is a sixth month journey during which I will blog about current research trends in the field of place branding.

My first post was on my favorite topic: measurement. I am amazed by how little we know about place brand measurement (-actually any kind of strategic communication measurement). More often than not, our ignorance is caused by the fact that we are not sure what we should be measuring.

clip-art-measuring-and-weighing-245067

Yes, I am using a clipart on a blog post. I think it is okay.

Technically social sciences present us a multitude (myriad?) of tools to measure anything we want from public opinion to policy performance. Yet, within the complex structure of social life and communication – in this specific example place branding – it is difficult to isolate the impacts of what we are intentionally doing. Let me present a basic example. Even if we decide place brands mean the associations that come to people’s minds when a place is named, how can we be sure that these associations are the results of our communication (branding) campaigns? These perceptions might be caused by personal experiences, influenced by friends, or completely changed by news.

I wrote about my views on how we can create a better measurement system in my post. You can find the full-text of the post at this link (redirects you to PlaceBrandObserver.com, a free website).

Measuring the Unmeasurable: Bloom Consulting Tourism Edition

Measurement of place brands is an issue very dear to my heart. Well, at least very dear to my academic schedule. I recently tried to come up with a solution using semantic and social networks (paywall link, free access link). I took another take on the issue, together with my colleagues from Stockholm Programme of Place Branding. We approached from a brand equity understanding to understand the brand of Stockholm (paywall link, free access link). This is why I am quite excited when I see new approaches to measurement practices. Bloom Consulting seems to be developing an intriguing methodology in their measurement practices.

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From Ferguson to Erdogan: (De)Branding through Acts

Two news articles have been occupying my social media feeds: Ferguson jury decision and Erdogan’s comments on gender equality. A grand jury decided not to indict the police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed African American teenager, causing nation-wide protests. Erdogan decided to share his views on gender equality, once again, with the public in a Women and Justice summit. He said that “you cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature because their nature is different“. Both events got a large scale media coverage, causing domestic and international publics to question the ‘brand’ identities of the countries.

Ferguson, MO - August 11th (Image from Al Jazeera)

Ferguson, MO – August 11th (Image from Al Jazeera)

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What are we measuring in nation branding?

Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index published its 2014 results a couple of days ago. I guess it is that time of the year that scholars start sharing their views on the issue. Nick Cull recently did so on CPD Blog, and let me chime in as well.

This year’s report backs up my two biggest concerns about the index:

1- Are we measuring perception or performance (or exposure)?

2- What do the rankings actually mean?

What if Germany scored 8 goals against Brazil?

What if Germany scored 8 goals against Brazil?

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Turkey: Home of Absurd Promotion Posters

Turkey unveiled its new promotion posters for 2014, with the theme “Home of [insert (sometimes proper) noun here]”. When I first saw some of the posters, I really was not sure whether this was an official campaign or a spoof. As various news outlets reported the event as such, I assume it is an official campaign – though the content of the posters make it very difficult to believe that.

Nope, that is not Virgin Mary in the picture.

Nope, that is not Virgin Mary in the picture. Just a random lady.

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Branding at the time of Crisis: Turkey and Gezi Park Protests

*For those who don’t know about Gezi Park protests, here is the Wikipedia article , here is a short infograph explaining the first 8 days, and here is a segment from the Colbert Report.

As Ahmet Davutoglu mentioned, the Gezi Park protests have an impact on Turkish reputation in the international arena (link in Turkish). But as the debunked urban legend goes, the Chinese word for crisis includes two characters: one for danger, another for opportunity. This post argues that the Turkish state has failed to use the Gezi Park protests to boost its image. Yet, it is not too late. Turkey can still use these protests as a way to increase its reputation as a strong modern capable state.

A protestor reading to the police officers at Gezi Park

A protester reading to the police officers at Gezi Park / Early days of the protest

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Turkey (not) in Eurovision: Symbolic Actions and Branding

Last Saturday, countries from across the European continent came together for the 58th time, for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden….but not Turkey!

Turkey explicitly expressed its concerns about the fairness of the contest – a concern that has not been voiced by any other country before. Therefore, Turkish decision is indeed a symbolic action that has implications for its reputation (or brand) as part of the European society.

As seen in the video above, it is quite difficult to take Eurovision seriously and discuss its fairness. But Turkey did it. What was Turkey thinking?

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Measuring Nation/Place Branding: Country Brand Ranking

As you might already know, the question of measurement is yet to be answered in the field of nation/place branding. There are a couple of commercial measurement scales such as The Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, and FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index. There are also several academic studies (examples can be found here and here) that work on conceptualizing place brand measurement scales. I have a long-term research project I still work on entitled “Define-Measure-Visualize“.

Your place has six ounces of brand.

Recently, I was introduced to the Country Brand Ranking created by Bloom Consulting. Unlike the other commercial products, CBR focuses on facts and figures through international agencies, and look at the branding messages to rank countries.

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Time for Engagement: Eurovision and European ‘Brand’ Identity

Another Eurovision season is over! Sweden’s Loreen won the title, and is bringing Eurovision back to Sweden after over a decade (and unfortunately around a month after my fellowship in Stockholm ends!) I don’t think I ever hid my love and appreciation for the Eurovision Song Contest. It is more than a song contest, it is indeed a part of European identity and politics. After reading a great post on politics of Eurovision by Yelena Osipova, and an incredibly awful post written from an American exceptionalism point of view, I want to say a couple of words on European brand and Eurovision.

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“New” May 19th and the Turkish brand

After the Turkish government’s most recent attempts to redesign national commemoration day celebrations, and some encouragements from several colleagues, I decided to revisit an article I wrote on the ethics of place branding last year, entitled  “Thinking about Place Branding: Ethics of Concept“. I did so conceptually in Place Management and Branding blog.

I want to expand on the Turkish experience and my concerns about the “ethics” (as well as viability) of Turkey’s brand in this post.

Erdogan with his party's youth branch (From HDN)

Erdogan with his party’s youth branch (From HDN)

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