Do Nations Build Brands or Brands Build Nations?

What comes first? Is it a chicken and egg situation? I reckon the jury is still out on this and will continue to remain so for some time.
Siemens. Audi. BMW. Mercedes, Adidas. Staedtler. Porsche, Kohler: what do these brand names conjure up in your mind? The Made in Germany factor.

Nescafe, Lindt, UBS, Rolex, Omega. Victorinox, Longines: Small country: Switzerland but look at the big brands that orginate there.

Chanel,YSL, Airbus, Peugot, Dior, Louis Vitton, Lacoste; The French Connection here is strong and over riding.

Versace, Lambhorgini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo: The Italian touch is omnipresent.

Now let’s look at another dimension and put the shoe on the other foot.

Finland: what’s the call here? The Nokia brand gave this country the attention of the world. Connects the world in a way to Finland (not much motivation otherwise).

Puerto Rico: The Bacardi brand gives this Latin nation a big high all over the world. Three cheers to that!

What does one summarise from this? Do nations build a brand or brands build a nation?

Today we are in a scenario where a brand that orginates from say Germany especially in the Engineering or Automobile space comes into the market with a huge advantage- the Made in Germany label. Likewise, when it comes to perfumes & fashion, France gets top billing. And for watches, chocolates and banks, we need not look beyond Switzerland. What does it take for a nation to entrench its authority on the world consumption stage? Global acceptance, aura, enigma, quality or a combination of all these traits?

Finland was a Scandinavian country mostly lost to the world save for some paper manufacturing mills that shipped out millions of newsprint to newspaper and magazine publishers all over the globe. But it never put the country on the global map. Over the last 15 years Nokia has changed all that. The world’s leading handset brand( though now fast losing ground) is now connecting the country to the rest of the world, literally and figuratively. A classic case of a brand building a nation.

I reckon there is a generous dose of overlap in this. But, what remains a huge motivation is the fact that little known, puny little countries have earned global respect and attention through the power of the brands they create in their home countries. The likes of a Samsung have fought deep rooted biases and prejudices and have shown to the world that a Korean brand can take on the very best(read Apple) head on and succeed significantly.

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