How to tackle the biggest challenge in Nation Branding and Place Branding - Management thinking

by Jose Torres, CEO, Bloom Consulting, Malcolm Allan, President, Bloom Consulting, and Daniel Valverde, Country Brand Director, Essential Costa Rica

Ahead of their session at the City Nation Place Global conference on 8 November, we asked Jose Torres & Malcolm Allan of Bloom Consulting, and Daniel Valverde, the Country Brand Director of Essential Costa Rica, to share their thinking around Nation Brand management structure 


Nation Branding is one of the most exciting but challenging practices for Countries and Cities that want to maintain a strong and positive reputation.

Yet, it is no secret that once launched most Countries and Cities are challenged every day to maintain momentum and properly manage their existing strategy. The list of challenges can go on and but these are probably the core fundamental issues Countries and Cities face when implementing their strategy:

- What should be the ideal management structure to manage the nation brand project

- How to deal with different stakeholders and different agendas

- Establishing and creating the right metrics, nation brand indicators 

- How to ensure the brand strategy transcends government changes


To tackle most of these issues it is necessary to develop a Nation Brand Management Model © inside (or outside) government institutions, so they are equipped with the right tools, the right processes and officials are fully trained on how to deal with recurrent challenges in Nation Branding and Place Branding initiatives.

As depicted below, Bloom Consulting has developed a Nation Brand Management Model © that is currently being implemented and adapted by some Countries such as Costa Rica and Cities who saw the need for a more structured approach to correctly implement and manage  their existing Nation brand or Place Brand strategy.

Graph: Nation Brand Management Model © (Source: Bloom Consulting)

Graph: Nation Brand Management Model © (Source: Bloom Consulting)

This model covers the following objectives:

1)  Guaranteeing  continuity of the existing Nation Brand strategy

It is more challenging to maintain the existing brand strategy than defining a new one.

It is not an easy or a single task. In spite of its primary importance for any Nation Brand project, the concept of Central Idea and its significance for the project’s success is still sometimes misunderstood or undervalued by practitioners and particularly key stakeholders.

2)  Evaluate ON and OFF Brand initiatives

Being able to identify ON Brand and OFF Brand projects is an essential part any Nation Branding endeavour.

But, what does it mean being ON or OFF Brand?

A project is ON Brand when it complies with most of the established filters for the brand (e.g. values and characteristics), which means that it is aligned with the Brand Strategy and communicates itself in the right way. If one of these filters is not met, it is considered an OFF Brand and specific actions must be taken to convert it to ON Brand.

3)  Establishing the right metrics for the measurement of the project

KPIs are essential to help the stakeholders in the Nation Branding project to plan the implementation of a more integrated approach, the management of the country’s brand offers and experiences and the measurement of their impact and the results achieved in order that they can keep track of progress and take appropriate action to bring it back on track if it has been deviated.

4)  Creating an ideal structure to manage and implement the strategy

There are several reasons behind the failure of a nation branding project, but its success will always imply the existence of a good management structure that works and has what it needs to drive things forward (e.g. resources of people, finance and relevant data).

Daniel Valverde - Country Brand Director of Essential Costa Rica

Malcolm Allan – Bloom Consulting, President

José Filipe Torres -  Bloom Consulting, CEO

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