Nation Branding in an interview with Fatine Amante

Fatine Amante was born in Paris and after her studies she has worked for BNP Paribas, Standard&Poor’s, Frost&Sullivan, Microsoft, Adobe.

Can you give us a brief definition of Nation Branding?
Nation Branding is practiced by many countries. It aims to build and manage the reputation of countries. Emphasising the distinctive characteristics of a country leads to increase the symbolic value of its enterprises and products. The image of a nation and the successful transference of this image to its exports is of paramount importance. Even though Nation Branding is still a young and developing field, many countries, especially the most advanced, dedicate resources to this. Improving the standing of a nation, in terms of image and reputation, inevitably influences its capability to attract investors and workforce, its political and cultural influence, as well as the strength of its companies in terms of marketing and sales.The concept of measuring global perceptions of countries across several dimensions (culture, governance, people, exports, tourism, investment and immigration) was launched in 2005. However we have earlier examples of this such as the extension of the Made in Italy concept or the Cool Britannia. In both cases we can talk of a general feeling of optimism for an extended time which, supported by institutions and communications means, may become an effective instrument for Nation Branding and, finally, for the development of a country’s business.

What has Nation Branding to do with the Universal Exhibition of 2020 in Dubai?
Peter McAleese said that the World Exposition (EXPO) has become a platform for Nation Branding. I agree with this. We all need to understand that countries are indeed brands. Moreover countries often are themselves, arguably, some of the strongest brands in the world and every year more and more countries are understanding the importance of Nation Branding to drive their economies and succeed. World Expositions represent a unique chance for countries to showcase these traditional strengths to the world at large but also to draw attention to emerging industries and SME’s as well as to strengthen ties with emerging markets. Expo 2020 in Dubai is therefore an enormous opportunity and platform for Nation Branding.

What level of understanding do countries have of Nation Branding?
Nation Branding is a complex occurence. It requires the understanding and active participation of institutions both at local and national level. In a study conducted throughout the EU countries before the 2015 Universal Exhibition, we were able to see that Nation Branding is often triggered by single, well-orchestrated, PR and Communication events. There are companies, such as DMA International, specialised in this (added by Expo Magazine after this article). However once the momentum of Nation Branding is gained, its up to Governments and local Institutions to effectively operate a Nation Branding strategy. Still, the interesting aspect is that often it all starts quite simply from an Online communication strategy. We need to understand that Expos run at a fast pace and they are exceptional instruments capable of leveraging Nation Branding.

What has Expo Magazine to do with Nation Branding?

Widely. Expo Magazine has the unique capacity to merge different levels of information and deliver this information to the right people. Today information is not an issue, all the information we need is available. What makes the difference is what information we select, how we combine this information and where we deliver it. In this respect Expo Magazine is exceptional: Universal Expositions are some of the largest global events ever, in terms of revenue and in terms of companies involved. Expo Magazine is the publication dedicated to these events with authoritativeness and independence. It is a virtual hub that conveys information coming from private investors, companies, chambers of commerce, Governments and institutions. All this information is conveyed with a special recipe capable to involve readers, both professional and private. 
I have been working in Standard & Poor’s and let’s not forget what it was two centuries ago. Henry Varnum Poor and his son publish in 1868 the Manual of the Railroads of the Unites States. It contained the essential information for investors in the railroad industry, keeping them current and enabling them to chart a company’s progress over the years. They were accounted for selling 2,500 copies. In 1906 Luther Lee Blake forms the Standard Statistics Bureau focusing on corporate news on industrials beyond railroads. A few steps later we see Poor’s Publishing and Standard Statistics working together. When you merge reliable market information with market news and a capacity to communicate all this, you don’t have a simple publication but you do have an highly effective business instrument.

We know of a survey you have made in Europe for Expo Magazine. Can you tell us more about this?
Yes. we have surveyed enterpreneurs and executives of both SME’s and larger firms throughout Europe to try and determine their interest and involvement in World Expositions. The first fact is that a much higher than expected number of them participated. This in itself is an answer.
The second fact is that according to our survey, 91% of the enterpreneurs and executives interviewed, see the World Expositions as a relevant business opportunity. However the same enterpreneurs and executives declare they do not know how they could take advantage for their company from World Expositions and they cannot evaluate to what extent World Expositions may be useful to their business. This survey clearly shows something is missing.

What are enterpreneurs and executives looking for in World Expositions?
1. exploiting the Expos for their business
2. collect market information for strategic marketing purposes
3. connect with local and national Government representatives in order to promote common interests
4. networking
5. leverage their activity

What is the role of Expo Magazine in this business?

Expo Magazine is a new platform offering selective market information on one side and deliverance of company and brand information to the right people and in the right places on the other side, with the support of Governments, chambers of commerce and local associations. All participate as ‘business partners’ with the common aim of effectively promoting their activity. We know indeed that in a competing environment, the ability to combine market knowledge, delivery of information and strong product branding supported by a strong Nation Branding, can make the difference in terms of success or not.
An information hub where all these aspects are interconnected can make a substantial difference. This is the role of Expo Magazine.

What solutions is Expo Magazine offering?

Expo Magazine offers market information and large-scale delivery of information both to consumer and to business, in a growing market of companies eager to exploit Expos with new products and services.

How would you synthesize Expo Magazine’s activity?
1. Nation Branding
2. Involve consumers
3. Collect and publish market information and forecast
4. Collect and publish institutional information
5. Draw attention to emerging industries
6. Strengthen ties with emerging markets
7. Improve business networks
8. Support enterpreneurs in expanding their activities through partnerships with selected local experts.
Private Investors, Chambers of Commerce, Local and National Governments all have the opportunity, through Expo Magazine, to deliver information to consumers and develop their networks. This makes the system highly effective in terms of enterpreneurs involvement with World Expositions.

What are the achievements of Expo Magazine in the last 12 months?
Currently Expo Magazine is a registered Trademark and has no competitors. In the last 12 months the original project grew considerably fast to the point of becoming the second largest information and networking hub after the Expo 2015 Official organisation and is on its way to become the leading reference for investors.

What are the next steps?
Our implementation plan sees an international Expo Magazine serving all Expos and not just one single event. We are building relevant partnerships in this direction. All market information will be permanently available on this new international communication platform. We register highly targeted subscriptions to our services and mailing list – and we are talking of well over a million consumers consulting our hub. Information will be delivered through the online platform and through a printed edition released once every year.