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Are you paying attention to your economic brand?

2009EconomicBranding.jpgI had a long conversation with a Dubai-based journalist yesterday; he was seeking my insight for an upcoming article on what a nation, city or economic region should be doing to ensure that it can remain competitive in the global economy in these challenging times.

I spoke to a wide variety of issues, but one theme that I emphasized was that one of the most important things that politicians, economic development officers, community leaders, boards of trade executives and others should be thinking about right now was their “brand image.” Given the rapidity of the meltdown and changing circumstances, regions that were once seen as vibrant, progressive, growth-oriented, are suddenly finding themselves with a different “brand.”

Success in the global economy as the rebound comes about will go to those regions that can continue to draw growth industries, specialized skills, and global attention. That’s going to involve a lot of effort to freshen up a brand image that might have been hurt. Or, it will involve ongoing effort to ensure that national or regional attributes are pushed out as part of the branding process. My fear is that with the downturn, some political, civic and business leaders are losing sight of this important reality.

After the call, I dug into this theme a little bit more. Turns out that Dubai had just gone and hired itself to hire a PR firm for a ‘makeover.” He didn’t lead me in our conversation, but I guess I was hitting on a key issue!

Apr 2, 2009 – Dubai has hired London-based public relations expert Finsbury to help the emirate improve its image and offset the effects of the negative media coverage of its economic problems, the Financial Times reported.

WPP Group’s (LON:WPP) subsidiary Finsbury will be entrusted with handling the emirate’s global financial communications amid the downturn that has hit the city state.

— Dubai hires PR specialist to improve image, British Business Monitor<

Two years ago, I keynoted a global financial conference in the Cayman Islands …. and part of my theme was that one of the key battlegrounds for nations in the 21st century will be the war for talent. Those who can get appropriate momentum behind their “brand” — that are seen as progressive, fast to change, and rapidly respond to challenges — will be the ones to thrive. Now with the downturn, that type of thinking is becoming more important than ever before.

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