Good News from Thu, 10 May, 2012:

Think Finland: Building a country brand

From a global branding point of view what is the worst thing that can happen when you mention the word Finland? The worst thing that can happen is that nothing springs to mind. This is why Finland has become interested in developing its country brand and image over the past few years.

The country’s brand report of 2010 commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and led by the former Chairman of the Nokia Corporation, Jorma Ollila, constituted a great starting point for strengthening the Finnish brand. One of its basic insights is that Finland’s brand promise should be positioned around its problem solving characteristics. This simple finding was well received by most Finns. The next challenge for the Finnish brand promise is how this becomes effectively communicated to the rest of the world.

Finland has many things to be proud of: it arguably has the best basic education system in the world and it is among the world’s most competitive and least corrupt nations. Given these claims to fame you would think that the task of positioning Finland as a world-class problem solver would be a piece of cake. Not so. Superior national rankings and the insightful discovery of your brand’s core is one thing, the compelling communication of it on a global scale is quite another.

Finland’s proposed approach to brand and image building is subtle and pragmatic. The promotional plan for convincing the world that Finland can solve some of their problems relies on a joint effort of all Finns. After all, the people of a country are the most compelling forgers of their national image.

I was happy to contribute to one project to empower Finns in this particular mission. A series of country presentations were recently published on the national image building website: www.maakuva.fi. This “Think Finland” presentation series gives all Finns the tools to present their country. I particularly like the closing catchphrase: “Lend us your problems. We will solve them with interest.” Once you see one of these presentations, you start to believe that Finland has the resolve to solve many of the world’s most wicked problems.