The Differentiation of a Nation : The Swedish Nation Brand Management
Abstract: This paper aims to highlight how the recent developments in international relations has created a environment with increased competition between countries for attention and assets and how these changes has promoted the increased use of public diplomacy to reach out to new actors. The study will focus on the public diplomacy sub-discipline of nation branding. The paper will analyze reputation management in international relations through the lens of corporate branding. This approach will help bridge the gap between marketing and international relations and expand the analytical toolkit for public diplomacy. While many studies have focused on branding campaigns this study will focus on the brand management to see whether it is capable of creating distinction and relevance for a nation brand or national reputation. The paper aims to give an descriptive analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats the Swedish reputation management faces in order to assess how the management can improve but also provide an analytical framework for researchers interested in studying reputation management. The paper will employ a qualitative method consisting of text analysis and interviews to connect the theoretical models with business practice to then present the results using a SWOT-analysis. The data gathered from the Swedish Institute serves to provide empirical data on the business conduct in relation to brand management and several indexes will be used to assess the Swedish brand. Results show that the Swedish nation brand management have adopted a wide range of methods to strengthen the distinctiveness and relevance for the Swedish brand and that the weaknesses are mostly connected to communication failures. The brand management has also good opportunities to further project a strong image of Sweden and the threats towards it are only marginal. The brand management should continue its current work while developing new methods and solutions to overcome the communication problems towards certain target groups. While the study have made contributions to understand how reputation management could be analyzed through corporate brand management, further research should look into whether a nation brand or reputation has been used as a power asset that is capable of actually acquiring global assets.
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