Panos Livadas has published at the Greek Secretariat General of Communication a very interesting article that seems to illustrate that interest in national branding is rising among the Greek state officials:
Given that images trigger perceptions and perceptions help shape decisions, states place great emphasis on building and projecting attractive images of themselves. Especially in today’s competitive world, countries around the world meticulously design and carefully implement their national communications strategies.
Gifted by Nature with a remarkable landscape and by Man with an outstanding Ancient civilization that is as relevant in modern times, Greece has always been loved and admired. In addition, she is identified with some of the most powerful brand names in history, such as Democracy, Philosophy or the Olympics.
Her recent successes, with the Athens 2004 Olympics being a prime example, have come to build and expand on such positive perceptions. Since the Games offer by default any one host the chance to present oneself before a watching world, Greece seized that opportunity to unfold the full spectrum of her comparative advantages. It was Greece as a competitive market in a plethora of sectors, like energy, the maritime industry, the financial sector, or infrastructure; it was Greece as a gateway to all of South-Eastern Europe, a region that, once a cleavage impeding our contact with friends and partners, currently aspires to follow in our steps of economic development and active participation in the Euro-Atlantic organizations; and it was Greece as a secure and reliable international partner in carrying out challenging tasks. Hundreds of millions of citizens around the globe — from state leaders and opinion makers to tourists, businessmen, investors or students— were engaged in the image and the pulse of today’s Greece.
The General Secretariat of Information conducted an international survey, questioning a single sample in two different phases (i.e. “waves”), before and after the Athens Olympics, and observing potential shifts in attitudes. The data indicate that while traditional attributes identified with Greece remain strong, the new stereotype has now been enriched with new ones.
More specifically, the attributes most strongly identified with Greece are the following:
- Beautiful Landscapes
- Family Values
The following attributes present the highest increase between the two waves:
- High Quality of Services
Significant improvement is also observed in attributes like:
- Social Sensitivity
- Care for the Environment
- Modern Infrastructure
Telling is the fact that the following traits present the most significant rise in their respective ranking, among the 30 observed attributes:
- Progress (from the 16th to the 11th position)
- Security (from the 20th to the 14th)
- High Quality of Services (from the 25th in the 17th)
It becomes apparent that two clusters of attributes now make up the modern stereotype on Greece: on the one hand, there are the emotional attributes like “sun,” “sea,” “fun” and “hospitality” that favor traditional comparative advantages of the country, such as Culture and Tourism. The second cluster, on the other hand, refers to rational attributes such as “High Quality of Services”, “Security”, “Progress”, “Creativity”, “Discipline”, and “Teamwork” and embraces non-traditional Greek comparative advantages. The fact that Greece is now perceived as a stable and reliable environment and Greeks are seen as credible partners has an invaluable added value that is transferred to our products and services. All in all, Greece has been repositioned on the global map of perceptions.
Close monitoring of printed and electronic media by the Greek Press and Communications Offices Abroad (which operate in 33 countries and under the supervision of the Secretariat General of Information) confirms that positive perceptions are increasingly stronger. Specifically, Greece now attracts the interest— mostly in a positive light— of the international community as a whole and on the whole range of her comparative advantages: economy, tourism, culture, banking, shipping, energy, infrastructure and sports. Greece, with numerous successes ranging from her brisk growth rate and the historic agreement for the construction of the Burgas – Alexandroupolis oil pipeline to successfully presiding over the United Nations Security Council and actively supporting humanitarian missions around the world, is perceived as an attractive partner on a plethora of fronts.
In fact, some titles speak loud and clear: the leading French newspaper Le Figaro calls “Greece, the New Energy Crossroads”, while The Wall Street Journal makes reference to “Greece cuts deficit, keeps robust growth; a lesson for others?”. In another indicative example, George Pauget, Cr?édit Agricole – Executive Director, notices in the Greek newspaperKathimerini that “[Greece] provides us access to a developing market and a fast-evolving region”.
Capturing the world’s feelings as we read and heard them during the Games (phrases like “They Did Wonders” still echo in people’s hearts), we designed a communications strategy about a…“Wonderful Greece”.
The logo, which embraces all of Greece’s comparative advantages under a unique communications identity and sends out a unified message, is widely used in the international campaign of the Ministry of Tourism and the various activities of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board while it has been adopted by the City of Athens and appears on communications projects of the Secretariat General of Information. At the same time, it embraces an increasing number of important exported products, with the virgin olive oil being the primary example.
In recent years, Greece has “seized the day” to project her true image abroad: the image of a credible and prospering country, a beacon of peace and stability for the whole world and an efficient gateway for Southeastern Europe, a region of more than 160 million citizens. The world has thus come to perceive her anew. The communications strategy designed and implemented by the Greek state only aims to maximize what is a Wonderful time for Greece!