Korea’s national brand needs to be improved
With the G-20 Summit approaching, all eyes are focusing on Seoul. The Korean economy has been growing rapidly over the past couple of years and it now ranks 9th in the world in terms of export volume.
However, Korea’s national brand image still lags behind. According to criteria on national branding developed by the Samsung Economic Research Institute and the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, Korea’s national brand ranked 19th in terms of substance and 20th in terms of image.
Lee Dong-hoon, a senior researcher at SERI, said that a national brand image plays several important roles.
It can encourage inward foreign investment, tourism, making a country an appealing place for living and studying, while also promoting exports.
Simon Anholt, a famous brand consultant, said that Japan is a successful example of national branding.
Japan first became famous in terms of brand image for the price competitiveness of its products in the 1960s, and then product quality in the 1970s, which helped create a truly strong brand by the 2000s.
Under government orders, Japan established a company that specialized in first promoting Japanese products and then other aspects of Japanese culture, such as food.
As a result, Japan succeeded in building up its national brand image from products to the overall culture.
Japan is now ranked 4th in terms of substance and 2nd in terms of image, according to the SERI-PCNB survey.
France, Malaysia and New Zealand are also considered leaders in creating a positive brand image.
Malaysia used its famous tourism slogan, “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” to also promote investments into the country, such as conducting an advertising campaign in the U.K. with the slogan, “Britain in Malaysia, Truly Asia.”
New Zealand has developed “New Thinking,” as a new image campaign to promote its country as a center of entrepreneurial business.
This follows its “100% Pure” campaign, launched in 1999, which leveraged the country’s pristine natural landscape.
According to the SERI-PCNB survey, Korea ranks slightly above the OECD average in terms of economic growth and technology, but below the average in terms of politics, infrastructure, traditional culture and nature.
The institute says that Korea needs to improve schools, hospitals and the environment to boost its brand image.
“Even though many Westerners tend to judge a nation by certain celebrities, Korea’s national brand hasn’t been created in this way,” said Lee.
This implies Korea should find and publicize celebrities such as politicians, businessmen, artists and sport stars to appeal to foreigners.
Mo Jong-rin, a professor at Yonsei University, said, “Korea should increase contributions to the world and raise its reputation so that it plays a central role.”
Professor Mo pointed out that Korea’s international contributions such as overseas development aid (ODA) and peacekeeping operations are inadequate.
“President Lee set a goal to raise ODA by 0.35% of gross national income by 2021, but this is trivial compared to China.”
“Soft power elements should be emphasized in Korea’s diplomacy toward the world,” said Mo. He suggested “diplomatic contributions based on information” and insisted that Korea be a “soft power” provider to the rest of the world.
Analysts also say that Korea needs to focus more on such soft power efforts as global volunteering, and refrain from always trying to promote only national interests at the expense of global interests.
Korea can become a bridge between the U.S. and East Asia as well as narrow the gap between advanced and developing nations.
By Yoon Chang-hee [firstname.lastname@example.org]