We Have to Be in Tune with Modern Times in Order to Flourish; Is 'Brand Wales' Dead? Marketing Expert Heather Skinner Examines Howbest to Promote Wales on the World Stage

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

We Have to Be in Tune with Modern Times in Order to Flourish; Is 'Brand Wales' Dead? Marketing Expert Heather Skinner Examines Howbest to Promote Wales on the World Stage


Byline: by Kelly Jones

WALES' unique identity has been gradually eroded over time, and subsumed under larger entities such as the United Kingdom and the EU.

In 2009 Wales is to be the featured nation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual showcase event in Washington DC.

But are we as a nation ready for this? Do we have a strong enough sense of identity? Do we know who we are? How we see ourselves?Andcanwebesurethat we are presenting an appropriate identity to the world?

These become key questions when trying to resolve not only Wales' identity crisis, but also that of each individual nation within the UK. The viability and relevance of "Britishness" as a sustainable identity concept for the 21st centuryis being questionedin light of both devolution and globalisation.

Asaresult therehas been growing interest in the subject of place branding, but arewe looking in the right place for the answers?

The successful re-branding of places has often been politically driven, withbenefits reapedacross a wide range of areas such as tourism, economic immigration, foreign direct investment and export.

However, there are more than 190 independent nation states around the world competing for market share in these areas. Many remain plagued by stereotypical images, while others have negative or under-developed images.

Unlike a commercial product, a nation is itself difficult to define and its brand values are difficult to identify and communicate. Therefore, people tendto relyoncultural stereotypes to find elements that differentiate one nation brand fromanother.

Historically, Wales has been stereotyped as a nation whose backward-looking culture was steeped inmythology, past glory and small communities reliant on mining and heavy industry. At the turn of the 1990s, Wales was still struggling tomaintain a unique sense of identity that was not solely based firmly in the past.

But by the end of the 1990s Wales began to be reborn. While the oldenduring symbols of Wales were still evident, the demise of heavy industry had brought with it a need for change in the economy's make up if Wales was to survive into the new century. Post-devolution, there was also a political need to establish a greater awareness of Wales as a separate nation with its own unique identity.

Cymru was becoming cool. …

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We Have to Be in Tune with Modern Times in Order to Flourish; Is 'Brand Wales' Dead? Marketing Expert Heather Skinner Examines Howbest to Promote Wales on the World Stage
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