Antagonistic Nation Branding Strategies: The Case of North Korea
Abstract: Purpose: This paper aims to uncover the complexity of nation branding strategies, specifically in relation to antagonistic nations using a case study of North Korea. Design/methodology/approach: To provide background context and discuss all relevant theories to this analysis, an extensive literature review has been conducted. As such, different conceptions of corporate branding, nation branding and propaganda have been studied. This paper adopts a qualitative approach, using the single case study of North Korea, accompanied by an online questionnaire. This research article also includes an application of the Corporate Brand Identity Matrix, a research tool to gain in-depth understanding of the country’s identity, symbols and values. Findings: This paper determines, through the scope of brand management concepts, the use of a nation branding strategy of North Korea. This study reveals a number of insights in relation to North Korea’s nation brand which strives to gain legitimacy, disregarding public approval, through propaganda displays of power and heritage. The application of the Corporate Brand Identity Matrix to North Korea also allowed us to build a clearer picture of the country’s core identity elements that make up the fundamentals of its nation branding strategy. Research limitations: The single case study approach lacks extensive empirical data and is not systematically applicable to other nations or organizations. As such, more in-depth qualitative and quantitative studies need to be conducted to fully understand the phenomenon of nation branding. Additionally, this research paper mostly uses secondary data thereby limiting the findings. Originality/value: By filling the gap in nation branding research literature and analyzing North Korea through the lens of the Corporate Brand Identity Matrix, this paper manages to go beyond popular standards and theories in the field by investigating a country who chooses to brand itself in an antagonistic and unconventional way.
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