The paper aims to apply the co‐creation paradigm to nation branding in order to analyze how the identity and image of a nation brand are inter‐twined in terms of levels and dimensions, respectively.
This explorative study was conducted among 178 Finnish university students, who were asked to build a program for branding Finland. The students worked in small groups of two or three. In all, 75 reports were handed in, of which those (67) targeted at tourists were taken for analysis. The analysis was conducted in accordance with a model modified from Gnoth.
Its image is a critical stimulus in motivating tourists to visit a destination. A nation brand is at the crossroads of three levels of identity and a fragmented set of images. The idea is to exploit the right fragments in line with the destination and the target groups.
The empirical analysis was based on data gathered from MBA students. The intention is to extend the sampling to include branding experts, company representatives and delegates of the Finnish Nation Brand Committee in order to build up a more specific picture of a nation's brand identity and image. The examination is restricted to one, rather homogeneous country, Finland. It would be of interest to conduct comparable analyses in other, more heterogeneous countries. Another avenue for future research would be to test the market, in other words to question potential visitors about their perceptions, and thereby to determine whether the nation's brand identity and image coincide.
This paper contributes to the theoretical discussion on the role of branding in the marketing of places, herein called nations. For practitioners, it highlights the importance of managing the brand “bottom up”, in other words starting from the people.
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