A strong brand delivers a promise, said Ido Aharoni, the New York Israeli Consul General.
Yesterday, Aharoni and Israeli Deputy Consul Raslan Abu Rukun spoke at “Brand Israel,” an event exploring the connection between marketing, world politics and Israel’s current “brand image” around the world. The event was hosted by the Marketing Undergraduate Students Establishment.
After a brief introduction by Rukun, Aharoni spoke to students about the idea of branding a nation. Aharoni became New York Israeli Consul General in August 2010, and learned about nation branding while serving as the Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the consulate in New York.
“Branding itself is first about the stakeholders — the people themselves,” Aharoni said. “It’s not about what we say. It’s about what they hear.”
Nations must actively manage their brand, he stressed. Israel is constantly portrayed negatively in the news, and until a few years ago, the nation as a whole wasn’t doing anything to try and promote itself, he added.
Branding a nation is “putting a human face on a product.”
“People draw different conclusions from the same text, so it is important to build meaningful, relevant relationships,” Aharoni said. “Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to improve the position of the country.”
How Israelis feel about their nation and how the rest of the world views it are disproportionate, too, Aharoni said. In other words, Israel’s brand is inferior to the product — the country of Israel.
Aharoni’s job is to slowly close that gap. He said this transformation is not something that will occur overnight. “It will take time.”
The key to any nation branding itself is to “find out what [the nation in whole] is good at and communicate that to relevant audiences,” Aharoni said. A nation must not allow competition to define it, he added.
While a nation can do a lot to alter its brand image, assumptions cannot be made, he said.
For example, a study involving 30 college-educated focus groups showed that Americans view Israel in a very dim light. But they would support Israel over Palestine 7 to 1.
People “can agree with you intellectually and disagree with you emotionally—it doesn’t have to be rational.
MUSE contacted Aharoni directly to bring him to campus. “Through this event, [MUSE] wanted to present a fresh and unique perspective of marketing through the lens of international politics,” said Wharton sophomore Marc Abundo, MUSE vice president of promotions and web.
Wharton freshman Andrea Cuartero, who attended the lecture, learned more about the concept of branding. “The strategies of branding should be applied to more important things in the world that matter, rather than just branding your clothes.”
This story has been updated to clarify the correct titles of Aharoni and Rukun.
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