Nation Brand in Oman

Studying Stakeholders Views On “Branding Oman’’

Master's Thesis, 2010

137 Pages

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Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 The Sultanate of Oman
1.3 Research Problem
1.4 Research Purpose and Objectives
1.5 Research Questions
1.6 Research Outlines

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Nation Branding in Literature
2.2.1 Country of Origin and Nation Branding according to Literature
2.2.2 Destination Branding and Nation Branding
2.2.3 Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding
2.3 Nation Branding based on Marketing Theories
2.3.1 Nation Brand Identity and Nation Brand Image
2.3.2 Branding Nation; Brand Equity
2.3.3 Nation Branding and Segmentation Target Market Strategy
2.4 Nation Brand Managements and Stakeholder

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Questions and Objectives
3.3 Research Approach
3.4 Research Method
3.5 Relevant Previous Studies
3.6 Research Instrument
3.7 Research Sampling Procedure
3.8 Data Collection
3.9 Data Analysis

Chapter 4: Research Findings and Discussion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Determine the Agreed Relevance of “Branding Oman” Among Different Stakeholders
4.2.1 Identification of Key Stakeholders of “Branding Oman”
4.2.2 Review and evaluate the “Branding Oman” sectors Evaluate the “Branding Oman” tourism sector between stakeholder
respondents Evaluate the “Branding Oman” Business and investment sector between stakeholders’ respondents Evaluate the “Branding Oman” IT and education sector between
stakeholders respondents
4.3 Evaluation / Examine respondents' perceptions in Branding Oman
as readiness
4.4 Branding Oman and BOMU challenges

Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Key Issues to Emerge Implications
5.3 Recommendation Framework for Nation Brand in Oman
5.3 Limitations of the Research
5.4 Suggestions for Further Research



Oman Business Environment Analysis and SWOT analysis.. Appendix A The summary statement (letter) .. Appendix B

Sources of Questions ... Appendix C

Interview Questions Appendix D

The Research Sample... Appendix E

Develop link between the research objective / themes / coding / question Appendix F Developing Framework for Nation Branding In Oman .. Appendix G


Title of the dissertation: Nation Brand in Oman: Studying Stakeholders’ Views On

“Branding Oman’’

Objectives: This thesis will be valuable in that it will identify the notion of nation branding and investigate the nation brand in Oman, studying current stakeholders’ views on “Branding Oman”; more specifically, this thesis has three main goals as follows: 1) To determine the agreed relevance of “Branding Oman” for the different key stakeholders: i) Review and identify key stakeholders in “Branding Oman”. ii) Review and evaluate the “Branding Oman’’ sectors. iii) Identify Branding Oman challenges. 2) To find out the key stakeholders’ views towards the current sectors applicable to “Branding Oman”. 3) To build a successful comprehensive framework for Brand Oman.

Methodology/Sample: The qualitative research approach was adopted and qualitative interviews were conducted with the “Purposeful Sample”, which served to narrow the researcher’s search to a more relevant sample to represent different stakeholders.

Research Findings: It has been observed through the researcher's findings that the idea of having four sectors (tourism, business and investment, IT as well as education) linked to “Branding Oman” is too much and unsustainable, and will eventually result in a loss of focus and possibly prove fatal to the project.

Recommendations: the researcher has drawn up a framework to help the Omani government

to support nation “Branding in Oman”.

Keywords: Nation Branding, Country Branding, Nation Brand Managements and Stakeholder, Nation Brand Identity and Nation Brand Image, Nation Branding in Oman.


Table 1: Terms used in the literature

Table 2: Selected Studies on the Origins of Nation Branding in Literature

Table 3: Definition of a nation brand

Table 4: Definition of nation branding

Table 5: Examples in nation branding

Table 6: Example internal assets iconography (icon); landscape and culture

Table: 7 illustrates the world’s Top 10 of 50 Nations

Table 8: The categories of stakeholders for nation branding

Table 9: Example for specific sector programme and specific target market strategies

Table 10: Primary and secondary data used in this research

Table11: Selected studies in Destination Branding/Nation Branding and relevant with Stakeholders


Fig.1: An information processing model of relative product image

Fig.2 Anholt- Nation Brand Hexagon

Fig.3: New public diplomacy goals

Fig.4: The concept of nation branding: origins and interpretations

Fig.5: Conceptual model of nation brand identity and image

Fig.6: The impacts of nation brand value

Fig.7: Model of asset based nation brand equity

Fig.8: Building nation brand architecture (NBAR)

Fig.9: The FIST (fully- inclusive stakeholder) approach

Fig.10: The identification of the range of diverse stakeholders for Cyprus

Fig.11: Power and Interest conceptual matrix

Fig.12: Summary of the Methodology

Fig.13: The respondents identified the key stakeholders of “Branding Oman” The Power and Interest matrix

Fig.14. Recommendation Framework for Nation Brand in Oman

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Globalisation makes our world one market, meaning there is a large range of products and services for consumers to choose from, and for the provider there is increased competition. The competition among companies and even countries has become heightened, in order to earn a share of the commercial global market. Here, branding has become more important for people’s perception, in order to differentiate between products and services.

Historically, countries have built their nations’ brand identity through a combination of a variety of national images; such as currencies, anthems, flags, costumes and so on (Dinnie, 2008). According to this image, nations have always linked themselves with their national icons. However, such images might not always be affirmative and may be limited or outdated. In a number of instances the image associated with a country does not reflect or support the nation’s best interests, or their development (Anholt, 2006a; Kis, 2008). Consequently, countries have encountered and adapted new ways to promote and identify themselves in a more stylish and visible form, so as to attract more tourists and direct foreign investment; or to promote their exports and services through strategic marketing strategies, indicative of the weighty impact of global market, and these are called, “Nation Branding”.

Now here we may ask a question: is it possible to brand a nation? How can we adapt marketing theory to the context of nation branding? Would a strong nation brand help a country to attract more tourists and direct foreign investment and promote their exports? Who might need to be involved in nation branding? Who are the stakeholders of nation branding? (Kotler and Gertner, 2002; Dinnie, 2008).

The Sultanate of Oman has recognised the importance of nation branding. In 2005, Oman took the first steps to branding the country by approaching brand consultants Landor to conduct a research study with the essential aim of discovering how Oman could best brand herself on the global stage? The Landor (2005) research study concluded by proposing a three year implementation plan and recommended four elements of brand architecture to form a distinctive identity system for Oman. The four elements are tourism, business and investment, IT and education, to be identified as key “Branding Oman” sectors. Early in 2009, and four years on the Brand Oman Management Unit (BOMU) was founded, based on Landor’s research study on marketing Oman via the “Branding Oman” sectors, which are tourism, business and investment, IT and education.

This chapter introduces and formulates the direction of the thesis and the research problems encountered, as well as outlining data regarding the Sultanate of Oman, based on the Oman business environment analysis and SWOT analysis provided in Appendix 1. The chapter will highlight the research purposes, questions and research objectives. Finally, the chapter will briefly outline all five chapters that comprise this thesis.

1.2 The Sultanate of Oman

Oman is a developing country that occupies 309,500 square kilometres (roughly the same size as Italy) with a coast line of 2092 km on the Gulf of Oman, Gulf Arab Sea and the Indian Ocean and 1374 km of land borders shared with the UAE, Kingdom Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Oman has a population of 2.8 million people with 55% of the population under the age of 20 and 83% under the age of 35, making it a very youthful country (Oxford Business Group, 2010). The Sultanate of Oman is an oil producing country and the economy of Oman mainly depends on oil income. However, during the past decade the Omani government has undertaken many development projects to modernise the economy, which crystallised in the Vision for Oman's Economy Oman 2020. The GDP in 2009 saw the strongest growth, at 25.1

% compared to 2008 at 23.0%, 2007 at 16.0 % and 2006 at 14.2% respectively; this despite the global economic crunch in 2005 (Ministry of National Economy, 2008; Business Monitor International, 2010). Despite the economic recession and political events in the region, the Sultanate of Oman is one of the most economically and politically stable country nations in the region making it a haven for attracting foreign investment (Oxford Business Group, 2010).

There is no doubt that business, tourism, IT and education are important for developing countries, especially for Oman, which is looking to develop itself based on economic growth, knowledge and human resources (See in the Appendix 1 Oman Business Environment Analysis). Here for example; tourism in Oman has been identified as the industry that will act as the driver of growth in Oman. The ambition Vision 2020 of the Omani government aims to derive around 3% of GDP from the tourism sector and fill about 80% of tourism jobs by meeting Omanisation goals (Oxford Business Report, 2010) (See in the Appendix A Oman Business Environment Analysis).

1.3 Research Problem

There is huge debate and controversy in the “Branding Oman” sectors, which are tourism, business and investment, IT education, in terms of their number as well as their readiness to promote and market Oman on the global stage. Therefore, the primary purpose of this thesis is to investigate and determine the agreed relevance of “Branding Oman” amongst different key stakeholders in terms of the readiness of the sectors and how the Omani government can establish a nation brand in Oman?

1.4 Research Purpose and Objectives

This thesis will be valuable in that it will identify the notion of nation branding and investigate the nation brand in Oman, studying current stakeholders’ views on “Branding Oman”; more specifically, this thesis has three main goals as follows:

1. To determine the agreed relevance of “Branding Oman” for the different key stakeholders:

i) Review and identify key stakeholders in “Branding Oman”.
ii) Review and evaluate the “Branding Oman’’ sectors
iii) Identify Branding Oman challenges.

2. To find out the key stakeholders’ views towards the current sectors applicable to “Branding Oman”.

3. To build a successful comprehensive framework for Brand Oman.

1.5 Research Questions

1. How can the Omani government establish and build a successful nation brand in Oman?
2. To what extent do the different stakeholders in “Branding Oman” agree on the “Branding
Oman” sectors?
3. Which of the “Branding Oman” sectors are currently ready to apply “Branding Oman”?

1.6 Research Outlines

The research is organised into five chapters as follows:

- Chapter 1: Introduction, introduces the research background and the problems of the research.
- Chapter 2: Literature Review, this will be divided into three main sections. Section one to review the role and relationship between nation branding and the literature of the country-of-origin COO, place branding, and public diplomacy. Section two will focus on the concept of building nation branding and marketing theories, specifically on nation identity and image, brand equity and marketing segmentation. Finally, it discusses the role of the stakeholders in nation branding and brand management.
- Chapter 3: Methodology; illustrates the research methods that were used to obtain the data and analyse the methods.
- Chapter 4: Research Findings and Discussion; analyses the research findings and discussion based on the literature review as secondary data in Chapter 2, and the information acquired through interviews, as primary data in this chapter. The analysis is directed through the Power and Interest conceptual matrix (Shown in Chapter 3 Fig. 11).
- Chapter 5: Research Conclusion and Recommendation, is designed to provide a conclusion and comprehensive recommendation based on the research findings. Finally, limitations of the research and suggestions for further studies are proffered.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter will be divided into three main sections. Section one will review the role and relationship between nation branding and the literature of country- of- origin COO, place branding and public diplomacy. Section two will focus on the concept of building nation branding on marketing theories, specifically with regards to national identity and image and brand equity as well as marketing segmentations as a strategic approach. Finally, section three will discuss and examine the concept of nation branding and stakeholder identification in the context of nation branding the role and salience.

2.2 Nation Branding in Literature

Nation branding has become a hot topic in the last decade and there is a significant body of useful literature on the topic, which will be highlighted here. Although there is a huge interest among academics and practitioners, as well as a growing number of publications and consultancy projects, literature on nation branding is still in its infancy (Fan, 2006; Szondi, 2007). This might impede the progress and development of nation branding forward (Fan, 2010; Dinnie, 2008). In literature, the terms, nation branding and country branding or state branding are used interchangeably (Fan, 2006; Lee, 2009). There is not a significant difference between nation branding and country branding. The word (nation) refers to a nation as a large group of people who share the same language, history, culture and who live in a particular location under one government (The Oxford, 2007; Fan, 2006) whilst a country is an area or body of land occupied by a nation (Fan 2006). On the other hand, Guerrini (2005) as cited by Lee (2009) argues that, the idea of countries as geographical areas inhabited by groups of people is separate from the notion of the nation. Moreover, O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy (2000) point out that a nation is not a product and cannot be accepted as a concept; what can be accepted is the idea of a national image, which is very much linked “with key elements of a common culture (values, beliefs, norms, institutions)” (O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy, 2000 p.56-57). The important thing here is that the concept can establish the idea of nation branding through the characteristics of the country, which can be adopted by both a social construct and a collection of essences, defined as the characteristics of the country and its people (Wilder, 2007; Dinnie 2008; Lee, 2009). Therefore these national characteristics play a significant role in building a foundation for nation branding.

However, there is a slight difference between the image of a nation brand and a country brand image. Fan (2006) classified the differences into three categories as illustrated in Table 1. For instance, the country-of-origin effect COO is strongly linked with the product of the country and the product-country image is an element of the product brand and if the image released from the product so the brand will perish (Fan, 2006). Nation brand refers to the country, describing its intangible assets, whilst the product of a country is a sub element of that country’s image. On the other hand, cultural focus such as country stereotypes, national identity and national characteristics focus more on the culture and people of a nation rather than on branding (Fan, 2006).

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Table 1: Terms used in the literature

In light of this: What is nation branding? And what is a nation brand? According to Dinnie (2008, p.12) “Nation branding has emerged as a practice as countries turn to brand management techniques in order to compete effectively on the world stage”. Wiles description of a nation brand is “...the total sum of all perceptions of a nation in the mind of international stakeholders which may contain some of the following elements: people, place, culture, language, history, food, fashion, famous faces (celebrities), global brands etc” (Fan 2010, p.98). Thus, there is a difference between nation branding and the nation brand as a concept, and this will be explained and detailed in the nation branding as based on the marketing theories section in this chapter.

In addition, nation branding studies can be found in four different sources under country- of- origin COO, destination or place branding and recently under national identity as well as public diplomacy (Fan, 2010). Table 2 illustrates selected studies on the origin of nation branding in literature.

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Table 2: Selected Studies on the Origins of Nation Branding in Literature

2.2.1 Country of Origin and Nation Branding according to Literature

Country-of-origin COO provides a basic principle for nation branding in academic journals (Papadoplous and Heslop, 2002; Fan 2006; Lee, 2009). According to Nagashima (1970) the “made in” image has always created a picture, reputation and stereotype for a country, linking products from a specific country, in businessmen’s and consumers’ minds. In addition, Bilkey and Nes (1982) as cited by Lee (2009) reported that the origin of products in more developed countries can affect both consumer and industrial purchasing decisions. Moreover, the country-of-origin image is reflected in variable images reflecting the information of beliefs (Erickson, Johansson and Chao 1984; Bloemer, Brijs and Kasper 2009); with the product’s brand name influencing consumers’ beliefs about, and perceptions of product quality as well as the country (Han and Terpstra, 1988; Insch and McBrid, 2004).

Supporting the argument of the role of powerful image of COO Parameswaran and Pisharodi (1994) imply that image could be used as a competitive tool in regards to various aspects. In terms of feedback about a country’s image and product images, affecting country image in consumers and business Nebenzahl, Jaffe and Lampert (1997) have investigated how information about consumers’ perceptions is processed. People observe images of countries and then related products, and this has an effect on their purchasing decisions, affecting their experience and knowledge, about country image and product image forming feedback, affecting the country’s image as shown in Fig. 1.

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Fig.1: An information processing model of relative product image

Source: Nebenzahl, Jaffe and Lampert (1997)

In considering the extent to which the concept of a brand is valid to a nation Chinen, Enomoto and Costley (2000), showed that from the consumers’ evaluation there is a stronger effect from the COO image than from the individual products’ branding. Moreover, the study also indicates a relationship between consumers’ purchase and perceived product images and association with a country’s political images. In addition, COO product and service such as airlines, education, consultancy and retail services has the power to alter the perceptions of people and business (Hoenen, Karunaratna and Quester, 2005; Stanton and Veale 2009) “in terms of nationalism and halo influences on service brands” (Hoenen et al. 2005, p. 59). Ahmed, Johnson, Ling, Fang and Hui (2002) study shows that a strong brand image did not cover the negative COO effect on consumers’ perceptions. They suggested that companies need to be sure to link up with strong COO as a sustainable long term strategy. Moving on to the management standpoint Harzing and Sorge (2003) explained the relative impact between the COO and multinational companies. The study found that COO can be used as a unique associative pattern for each country. As a result, COO has grown to become a multinational practice at international level.

Many are convinced that ‘made in’ or ‘country-of-origin’ appears to be a powerful image that might be used to expand competition and improve products in the international market. However, according to Papadopoulos and Heslop’s (2002) study the product-country images as characteristics of the products, have not been assessed and measured clearly. They claimed that the concept of COO has exceeded to a new broader level approach to branding a country, and they suggest a new strategic development. The argument came from Kotler and Gertner (2002), who reflected on how country images could affect attitudes towards a country's products and services so as to attract tourists, businesses and investment. They suggested that countries should give more attention to nation branding and the use of it as a strategic management move (Kotler and Gertner, 2002). The movement came about through Anholt (2003) who proposed using COO more creatively throughout branded exports and by companies in the midst of nation branding that are aiming to build and develop the economies of countries for emerging markets.

National brands can help to develop economies and nation branding is a method for expanding market access at international levels (Abimbola, 2006) while the COO effect is just one side of nation branding (Jaworski and Fosher, 2003). Anholt and Hildreth (2005) posit the view that, what we have gained from the COO or made in labels is only symbolic of the value or class of the product. Nation branding is a much greater and more complex branding phenomenon (Anholt and Hildreth, 2005).

In the global marketplace, the role of nation branding is ideally to act like a national umbrella brand, seeking out the characteristics as well as assets of the country to differentiate its position from its international competitors and to promote the nation’s image in the global market (Fan, 2006; Dinnie, 2008).

While country image has been discussed widely in terms of the relationship between the COO and the product-country in literature, recent branding studies include all the characteristics and even the assets of the country which are identified as the nation such as political, economic, geographic, cultural as well as the history of a country and involves the characteristics of both the product and the producer Pasquier (2008) study as cited by Dinnie (2008). Although the relevance of COO to establish nation branding is huge, it cannot stand alone due do the perception of consumers. In fact, COO perceptions may change over time and it is the role of nation branding to manage change in a sympathetic direction (Dinnie 2008).

2.2.2 Destination Branding and Nation Branding

Following in the footsteps of the success of product and service branding among consumers in the marketplace, it was the turn of the destination to achieve similar success through branding. Destinations can be branded in a similar way to products and services (Kotler, Haider and Rein 1993; Hankinson 2001). According to (Kotler, et al, 1993 Lee, 2009) the concept of destination brand has been developed, based on place branding and on notions. It is recognised and practiced “consciously or unconsciously” throughout the place development context of marketing and place marketing literature; (Lee, 2009) indeed, the application of branding theory in destinations’ branding has been reported on since the late 1990s (Pike, 2004).

One of the most cited definitions for destination brand is that introduced by Ritchie and Ritchie (1998) (as cited in Saraniemi, 2009, p.42). It is “A name, symbol, logo, word mark or other graphic that both identifies and differentiates the place; furthermore, it conveys a promise of a memorable travelling experience that is uniquely associated with the place; it also serves to consolidate and reinforce the pleasurable memories of the place experience”. In addition, “…destination branding is an identity management that is holistic, dynamic, co- created and committed, and is based on the core values of the destination and its stakeholders both on the demand and supply side, in order to build a promise uniquely associated with the place” (Saraniemi, 2009, p.68).

Destination branding can use the same model for method of service as corporate branding (Balakrishnan, 2008). It starts with a strategic vision in the performance of the place (LaBonte, 2003) and the vision must be clear to facilitate and to attract more tourists and investments (Hankinson, 2005). The strategic vision relating to any place or destination which needs to draw tourists, business and companies, or to find markets for their exports as well as to position the country in the global marketplace necessitates countries applying strategic marketing management tools and conscious branding among various stakeholders (Kotler and Gertner, 2002). In a similar vein, Hankinson (2005) suggests that strategic vision can be formed into four elements, economics, business, tourism, and services. According to Balakrishnan (2008) these elements are formed from destination literature research works by Warnaby and Davies, (1997), Gonza´lez and Bello (2002), Hankinson (2005), Eraqi (2006), Wong et al. (2006) and Jamrozy (2007).

There are at least three different kinds of destination branding used for different types of brand identity with different objectives regarding the destination. Firstly, a geographical location nomenclature where place becomes a name for a specific brand or, for a production process, such as a generic name. For example the archetype is the sparkling wine ‘Champagne’. Second, product associate place co-branding, which place is linked with the quality of local products image as for example Swiss Watches. Third, destination branding can be treated as a form of destination management, which is based on the idea of changing the perceptions of places held by a specified user group, as an example “urban renewal including the creation of an identity with its own experiential value” (Lee 2009, p.28) (Kavaratzis and Ashworth, 2005; Lee, 2009).

Tourism destinations have two main roles. Firstly, tourist destinations have to look ahead towards developing the nation both socially and economically. Secondly, it should offer a variety of activities and destination experiences, which should be identified as ‘‘tourism’’ experiences (Bornhorst, Ritchie and Sheehan, 2010). Successful destination branding requires an understanding of how to develop a brand personality, brand differentiation and brand identity (Aaker, 1996) so that a place can be made visible to customers. As soon as the destination management organisation (DMO) creates an appropriate brand and had associated it in the minds of the targeted customers, a destination brand has been born by realising the place and there is a possibility that the customer will be consumed by the place (Rainisto, 2003). Moreover, this type of strategic image management involves the process of bringing to light an image of the place’s image among to its various customers, segmenting and targeting its specific customers as well as positioning the attractions of the place’s attractions and communicating with those target groups (Kotler and Gertner, 2002). To position a place or destination, DMOs usually use a slogan, which is clearly a sign that they are considered important (Pike, 2004). It might be argued that slogans will be limited in what they can achieve owing to one of the larger components of destination and promotion strategy. Anholt (2005) argued that destination branding should consist of more than a visual identity; such as a name, logo, slogan, corporate livery and so on, and more characteristics of corporate strategy, ethics, consumer and stakeholder motivation and behaviour as well as internal and external communication level. This should be harmonised from side to side practiced and strategically attached to the promotion of place, products, and sub-brands along with established good reputations built by a place guided by a clear plan strategy by DMOs (Lee, 2009).

Due to this the characteristics of destination branding are one component of country branding. Branding a nation is not the same as promoting tourism (Anholt, 2004) or branding a destination. Nation branding includes other tangible and intangible elements such as people, foreign investment, culture and heritage, exports and politics (Dinnie 2008; Anholt, 2004; Anholt, 2005) (See, Fig.2 Anholt: Nation Brand Hexagon).

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Fig.2 Anholt- Nation Brand Hexagon

Source: (Anholt, 2005)

2.2.3 Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding

In recent years there has been discussion on the theories of nation branding and public diplomacy in international forums adapting and integrating two apparently unrelated disciplines: political science and marketing (Lebedenko, 2004; Lee, 2009). Kissinger (1995), as cited by Hassman (2008), said that governments’ primary aim is to create a friendly and open environment with international policy built on the science of diplomacy. In contrast, market scholars look into the strategic marketing and communications management Kotler (2003) as cited by Hassman (2008). It is possible that political marketing is more developed than government marketing. In fact, politicians have seen that the unique personality of branding can create something useful not only for the markets, but also for political parties themselves (Rawson, 2007). Interestingly, the concept of using branding techniques as a superior tool in winning candidates votes is used in government election campaigns at local or national levels (Rawson, 2007).

Public diplomacy is an open field of information and ideas, it is inherent to democratic societies which are strongly focused on people (Lee, 2009); it provides a way to approach the people of a target country directly, rather than through governments (Hassman, 2008). In addition, Leonard (2002) argued that public diplomacy should be about building good relationships, understanding different cultures and requiring communities to be less policy focused. Likewise, Van Ham (2004) in his study emphasises that one of the important elements of public diplomacy is to build strong personal and solid institutional relationships which link and communicate with foreign nations by concentrating on values and equity instead of classical diplomacy. This new concept of public diplomacy can be employed to approach the target residents of a country directly through the media by choosing appropriate channels of communication, such as fast media: the internet, television, press and radio or with slow media channels promoting cultural dissemination and translation of books as well as art exhibitions Critchlow (2003) as cited by Hassman (2008).

This new modern diplomacy promotes the national interest and improves the awareness of countries by expanding a dialogue, rather than offering a monologue, amongst organisations and countries (Hassman, 2008). A number of studies have shown transmissions and transactions of public diplomacy through daily activities such as television, news, films, tourism, theatre, and internet conversations with people on similarly inclusive programs, such as hosting business and academic seminars and student exchange programs Wolf and Rosen (2004) as cited by Lee (2009). These activities will develop long-lasting relationships among citizens and countries.

Wolf and Rosen (2004) as cited by Lee (2009) in their study claimed that public diplomacy relates to the attitudes and behaviours of communities and that it relates to the extent of the behaviour and policies of overseas governments. In addition, they presented tasks and showed how they can be achieved for public diplomacy organisations through key elements of the public diplomacy mission and ideas from different stakeholders such as academic, business and other nongovernmental organisations. Moreover, De Vicente (2004) argues that it must be a stakeholders’ initiative and involve different sectors, individuals, organisations and businesses.

To be effective, public diplomacy should analyse and understand the messages before sending them to diverse nations as well as through developing listening, discussion skills and persuasion tools (Lee, 2009). In addition, governments should be able to build a strategy to leverage public diplomatic efforts through cultural networks or language institutes, or through participation in peacekeeping operations worldwide and the donation of development aid (Lee, 2009). The UK Foreign Policy Centre has illustrated the power and value of public diplomacy as a strategic tool for the national reputation and also to communicate in international societies (Lee, 2009).

Taking into consideration the key dimension of nation branding, Leonard, Small and Rose (2005) studied how countries can build a new diplomatic public role and they proposed a five-part outline on major public diplomacy goals and how to achieve them: 1) to form objectives in response to a new situation; 2) to communicate strategically and outline the messages for foreign policy; 3) to build a trusting partnerships with different stakeholders; 4) to build awareness and establish two way communication; 5) to establish independence and trust and to channel public diplomacy efforts in non-governmental directions(See Fig. 3).

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Fig. 3: New public diplomacy goals

Source: Adapted from Leonard et al. (2005); Lee (2009).

Meanwhile, positioning and national image is very much linked to public diplomacy. Quelch and Jocz (2005) indicated this link and claimed a strong connection between public diplomacy and national image as well as the country’s positioning. They give suggestions as regards the positioning of a country based on working with different stakeholders in the private sector and the government sector and involving the country’s top leaders (Quelch and Jocz 2005).

While the concept of nation branding and international public relations moves clearly towards interface, branding and public diplomacy appear strange to some diplomats. According to (Melissen 2004, p.27) “This state of affairs does not make things easier for diplomats” and some small minority experts argue that they, “… are like converts who see branding as little less than a miracle cure for their country’s image problems abroad” (Melissen 2004, p.27). They comment that nation branding in the business-sector cannot be embedded in the concept of public diplomacy (Melissen, 2004). However, he strongly believes that nation branding must improve as a concept for assessing modern diplomacy in the broader framework (Melissen, 2004).

In addition, public diplomacy should be directed according to a special doctrine and long term strategy Johnson, Dale and Cronin (n.d.) as cited by Hassman (2008). According to Charles (2005) “Usually, it is invisible: when it succeeds no one notices it, but when it fails, its absence is palpable” Charles (2005) (cited by Hassman 2008, p.28).

Melissen (2006) has argued the point over the similarities and differences in public diplomacy and nation branding are based on the following: both concepts are mainly focused internationally, but they also have a really important national dimension. Meanwhile, Lee (2009) stressed the same point and added that the difference between public diplomacy and nation branding is that public diplomacy is basically conducted through dialogue and promoting and maintaining relationships between public societies and nongovernment institutions; whilst the most important characteristic of nation branding is projection of identity.

2.3 Nation Branding based on Marketing Theories

Nations have been significantly affected by brands. People live in a system in which they act, think, and perceive within brands and a branded culture (Jaworski and Fosher, 2003).

Marketing the concept of brands is aimed at differentiating products and services and representing a promise of values (Kotler and Gertner, 2002; Morgan, Pritchard, and Piggott, 2003). According to the American Marketing Association the definition of ‘brand’ is a “name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competition” (Dinnie 2008, p. 14). Simeon (2006) offers a similar definition and links it with organisation and location brand as a “…specific symbol, product, service, organisation or location” (Simeon 2006 as cited by Balakrishnan 2009, p.612). In addition, Macrae, Parkinson and Sheerman’s (1995) study as cited by Dinnie (2008) added a unique combination of the characteristics of brand values; the functional and non- functional. Moreover, branding must “…attract and keep customers by promoting value, image, prestige, or lifestyle” (Rooney, 1995 as cited by Balakrishnan 2009, p.612). It must communicate information, minimize risk or increase trust (Knox, 2004), help to identify or recall key factors, differentiate from competition and facilitate recommendations (Palumbo and Herbig, 2000).

Nations have unique names and images for brands that are like human DNA or fingerprints. Every country has their own characteristics, from language and religion to customs and food, to music and art and no two nations are exactly alike (Jaworski and Fosher, 2003; Fan, 2006).

Although, in business and in companies the product brands are protected by law and have one owner, nation brands are mostly free and do not have control over their use or abuse; due to their geographic and language separation, the effect of differing views and thoughts as well as the desire of communities to be unique and original (Jaworski and Fosher, 2003; Fan, 2006). In addition; nations as a rule have only one official name such as “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or UK for short, which cannot be easily changed” (Fan 2006, p.5). Moreover, a nation might have more than one nation brand in accordance with the purpose of branding, for instance, “Cool Britannia or Green Britain” (Fan 2006, p.5) and in 2012 it will be branded for the Olympic Games. A nation can have several images such as China as the largest country with a large population, the Great Wall, pandas, Made in China (Fan, 2006). However, this brand is not owned by the nation but by a nation brand management organisation (Fan, 2006) or different stakeholders. Nations always like to be different from others and this desire has a huge effect on their identity (Jaworski and Fosher, 2003).

So what can we brand? What is being branded? To answer this question we must distinguish between nation brand and nation branding.

There is no one definition of nation brand and nation branding in the literature, Olin’s1999 study (cited in Lee, 2009 p.15) stated that it aims “To build or remould national identities” On the other hand, “Nation branding is a process by which a nation’s images can be created, monitored, evaluated and proactively managed in order to improve or enhance the country’s reputation among a target international audience” (Fen 2010, p.100). Table 3 and 4 indicates some of the definitions present in the literature.

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Table 3: Definition of a nation brand

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Nation Brand in Oman
Studying Stakeholders Views On “Branding Oman’’
De Montfort University Leicester
Master of Science in Marketing Management
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ISBN (Book)
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1956 KB
nation, brand, oman, studying, stakeholders, views, oman’’
Quote paper
Badar Alzadjali (Author), 2010, Nation Brand in Oman, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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