Nation branding – where nation-states in conjunction with international branding consultants execute marketing campaigns for their own country in order to attract investors and tourists – has grown both as a phenomenon and as an area of research the past decade. However, those who have analysed nation branding have either been deeply involved in the activities themselves, or have confused the branding process with the construction of national identities. In Bolin & Ståhlberg (2010) we took issue with this approach, arguing for the analytical separation of nation building and nation branding, on the grounds that these are different processes, [a] addressed to different audiences (national and international
respectively), and [b] that there is a need for distinguishing between different kinds of mediated campaigns (those who are addressing an international audience of investors, and those that direct themselves to tourists), and [c] that the campaigns differ in their relation to the historical past, and in their rhetoric. A great deal of previous research have been focused on Eastern Europe, where the Post-Soviet states search for their national identity in order to achieve the social solidarity in which each nation is built, while simultaneously try to rid themselves of their colonial Soviet past and ‘rebrand’ themselves.
As the building of national solidarity and the building of the national brand have to be orchestrated simultaneously, this also produces a tension. It is of high relevance to analyse these tensions as they appear in different national contexts. This project aims to analyse the tension between nation building and nation branding in Eastern Europe. With the focus on an on-going campaign – ‘Ukraine, all about U’ – its aim is to understand the inherent tension in relation to other states and branding activities, partly in relation to other Eastern European countries, and partly in relation to other nation-states (e.g. in Europe, Asia, Africa) – countries that often cooperate with the same Anglo-American branding agencies.
Methodologically the project will analyse textual material (videos, press releases, text and campaign material) and conduct interviews with branding consultants, government officials, and others who are involved in the activities. The project group consists of one media research, one anthropologist and one area studies specialist.