The national brand will help build a new flag to turn all Vietnamese people around the world to look forward a common vision.
In late March 2019, the Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts (AVSE Global) held a large-scale forum gathering influential Vietnamese people to discuss on the topic "raising the Vietnamese brand to a new height” in Paris, France.
Building a national brand requires scientific research and durable operation
More recently, after the success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, many experts have suggested the idea of positioning the "Vietnamese brand" in association with the image of a "safe destination".
The whole country is a product
However, the national brand is a rather complicated topic because there is no national brand model that is considered the norm and the branding process in each country is completely different. Therefore, before reaching a common vision in building the Vietnamese national brand, we should understand this concept correctly.
According to Ying Fan, former professor of Queen Mary University of London, a national brand is the gathering of impressions, beliefs and feelings that external subjects give to a country. The images can be fuzzy or deep, uniform or spread, true or prejudiced.
British branding expert, Simon Anholt, father of the concept of National Brand, most recently said that "a national brand is an image of the competitive identities of a country".
National brands should therefore be understood with the viewpoint of "the whole country is a product". It is the positive impressions, beliefs and good feelings that external subjects (consumers, tourists, talents, investors and politicians) give to a country.
The national brand is therefore a multifaceted category including the typical images of goods, landscapes, people, culture, and the political behavior of the government to the world’s matters of concern... that are the factors will then resonate and create trust, emotion and empathy for brand personality in the heart of target audience.
Create new, distinct, profound and consistent images
Ying Fan said that, unlike products or businesses, each country has its own brand, because it has inherent images in the minds of outside subjects. However, the images may be fuzzy or deep, uniform or spread, true or prejudiced. Therefore, one of the important tasks of building the national brand is to erase prejudiced images and create new, profound and uniform ones.
In his book, Simon Anholt affirmed: "National brand will be a tool of justice in the new millennium" in the sense that it will help underdeveloped countries to have an opportunity to rise up the in the context of globalization if they use it properly.
‘The Korean wave 'and the dream destination of Bhutan
That has been demonstrated by the sweep of the "Korean Wave" or a recent example of the small country of Bhutan, which has become the dream destination of many tourists to feel the happiest place in the world.
However, in Vietnam today, national brand is often misunderstood with the concept of a famous product brand on the national level (national brands). The national branding is often identified with the promotion of the image of tourism abroad or for some people it is a program on cultural diplomacy.
With the inconsistent and ambiguous understandings, it must be admitted that for many years, Vietnam is still struggling in positioning the country's common brand. Thus, the promotion of national brand has been temporary and passive with obscure slogans.
Bhutan is small but a dream destination for many tourists to feel the happiest place in the world. In this country, cutting down trees is considered illegal and severely punished
In this regard, Alholt warned that building a national brand is not about building a short-term culture promotion or trade promotion campaign. It must be a strategic decision to go hand in hand with a country's socio-economic development strategy.
In other words, national brand is the image of socio-economic goals. It is a general vision of the country that can be easily visualized without having to read numbers. Therefore, the image of a national brand is not a mere word but through which it must describe the economic nature that the country wants to target.
From the success of many countries such as South Korea, Estonia, Singapore ... both academia and the fact acknowledge the urgency of national branding, because the image of a country with “national brand” will make positive impacts on the behavior of consumers, tourists, talent, investors and politicians from other countries.
More simply, if the national brand is properly positioned and built, and can help the country become good in the perception of the target audience, then goods, tourism products, Investment associations, foreign policy ... of that country will be prioritized to choose by them, from which the country's competitiveness will be strengthened. However, a country must select a set of distinctive images.
Consumers usually infer according to a rigid logic: The German are principle and disciplinary and Germany has a developed science and technology, so the German mechanical products are number 1. The French are polite, France is romantic and lavish, fashionable and French perfumes are number 1.
On the contrary, one cannot believe that a country can be both a resort kingdom while having developed heavy industries. If the conflicting media images exist, it is difficult to create emotions and beliefs.
Towards a common vision
Brand ratings released by Future Brand in 2019
Therefore, choosing a "competitive identity" in the process of building a national brand is an extremely difficult job, which requires an attachment to economic reality and the consensus of people (brand owner).
Building a national brand is therefore a determination that requires scientific research and persistent operation. It is unlikely to succeed if it has not been included in the State's strategic documents.
Vietnam's economy has been obtained many important achievements; the country's position and power are increasing but the images of those achievements as well as the vision of a prosperous Vietnam in the future are still has not been communicated consistently and persistently due to the lack of an overall action plan.
Many Vietnamese are still skeptical of a prosperous future. Therefore, the national brand, if it is implemented properly, will help to set up a new flag to turn all Vietnamese around the world to look to a common vision for the "I am Vietnamese" pride.
Dr. Luong Ha (from Paris)
One of the important decisions made by many countries is to implement a methodical strategy to build and promote a national brand.