During the leisure chat earlier this week with my fellows we came to the topic of the country branding. Worth mentioning is, that there was no any intention whatsoever to hit this very actual topic in the Balkans. Instantly I have realised that this topic might be very profound and interesting to the wider public and therefore I decided to pay more attention sporadically to each of the Balkan countries and sum up their efforts to present their own country in best possible shape.

Country branding could be described as a process of using branding methods to promote a nation or a place’s image. It is the use of marketing and branding tools to ensure a change in the perception and the attitude of a specific target group towards a place’s image (free author’s definition).

country branding

Macedonian Flag / Illistration

Macedonia came to my mind almost instantly (again), since a couple a weeks ago I wrote here about their aggressive promotions worldwide. This article would be logical continuation of the previous one. Hereby I am going to bring up some of the available facts that are easily searchable via web and for the purpose of this article I categorized them in three following sections which are however parts of a greater long-run strategy to improve Macedonian image in the World.

Firstly, it goes without saying that all of the Balkan states strive to get some positive publicity and if possible to self-declare their own country as investment/foreigners/tourist friendly destination. Especially after unfortunate ‘90, when the epic Balkanization process took place.
Lately Macedonia invests tremendous amounts of money in order to proclaim itself as an investment friendly destination. This however goes together with persistent governmental efforts to cut the bureaucracy and costs down. As a result, Macedonia is officially listed in top ten country-improver in category “Ease of Doing a Business” for 2013/14, according to the World Bank report. This fact has astonishing influence on potential investors when making respective decisions. Not bad at all for the country size of Macedonia with a political puzzle in its background.

Secondly, the project, which was called “Skopje 2014” includes the commission of countless sculptures of art and monuments of historical figures, a wax museum, range of new government buildings built-in a neoclassical style, Crystal Palace-like update on the parliament, new bridges, an Arch of Triumph, fountains, and a gigantic statue of Alexander the Great, to name a few. All of these have been built for just four consecutive years. Frankly, I have to admit that this left me speechless whilst I was reading this for the first time. Such aggressive and continuing urban branding have not been performed in the Balkans (with exception of some seaside resorts in Montenegro and Croatia).

Moreover, Macedonia as a landlocked country is tightened between its neighbours without well-developed infrastructure. Given a fact it was hardly accessible from Western countries and wider Europe. This is about to change big time. The Government introduced subsidized which are to be use by Hungarian low-cost airline Wizzair in order to put Skopje on european tourist map and to facilitate tourist flow in and out. The result, after three years of subsidies, total number of destinations from Skopje to the continental Europe is staggering eighteen with prices starting from symbolic 10+ euros. Well done, once again.

When it comes to promote tourism, National Tourism Board of Macedonia launched highly funded campaign “Macedonia- Timeless”. Within the campaign following video(s) are played onto mainstream media nowadays and strong social media presence is performed.

So far, Macedonia succeded to attract several companies to open their manufacturing facilitites, double digit increas in tourist etc. One does not have to be branding guru to realise that the results are so obvious.

Videos and pictures are property of their respective owners and therefore the sole purpose of M – Factor‘s usage is further promotion.