Capitalising on nationality in international marketing

Aarhus – Danish for progress

While Aarhus has not yet gained the international recognition of Copenhagen, the 2011 city re-brand cleverly capitalises on its strongest international selling point – that it is Danish! Do Danish companies need to follow the lead and capitalise more on their “Danishness” when marketing internationally?

Denmark’s positive brand value
Perceptions of Denmark internationally include child friendly, bike friendly, eco friendly, progressive, stylish and with high quality innovative design. And of course the “happiest country in the world”, with a great work/life balance is strongly promoted as the Danish ideal. “Cool scandinavia” is very much in vogue in Britain at the moment with articles appearing regularly on everything from Jante Law, babies sleeping outside, Scandinavian Christmas traditions, Danish working hours and knitting patterns for Sarah Lund sweaters. 

International brand recognition
No-one is in any doubt that Coke and McDonalds are American brands. Because of the strength of their brands this not something they need to state explicitly. They may have “globalised” and “localised” but they are still perceived as icons of American culture.  However with the complexities of takeovers, mergers, re-location and outsourcing it remains less easy for some brands to retain there national identity. While it may be assumed that the Danish brands Lego and Bodum are recognised as icons of Danish innovation and design, this is sadly not always the case outside of Denmark and there is uncertainty about the origin of these highly successful international brands. 

Export value of “Danishness” for SMEs
However small to medium sized companies that are clearly located in Denmark should consider whether highlighting their “Danishness” could potentially contribute to the export value of their brand.

Spinning Jewelry in Søften is one company that has got my attention since moving to live there (and I have received one of their rings for each birthday I have spent in Denmark!). To me I associate their jewelry with simple stylish Danish design at affordable prices. They are growing quickly and currently sell in 18 countries world wide. However their Danishness is very “understated” in their marketing message and is not stated at all in their marketing text or social media. In their promotional video aimed at the US market they do state that they are Danish, but the strongest visual imagery is of Bangkok where they produce the jewelry, with a missed opportunity to promote Aarhus in any way. 

Spinning Jewelry “Genuine Jewelry since 1985”, why not Spinning Jewelry “Genuine Danish Design since 1985”?  Which is better to be an internationally recognised jewelry maker, or an internationally recognised Danish Jewelry designer? I think they are definitely missing opportunities to highlight their Danishness and to ultimately strengthen the marketability of their brand. 

Nationality as Unique Selling Point
On a personal note I never thought of my Northern Irishness as a particularly marketable quality and yet the first job that I got here in Denmark was on the basis of my Northern Irish accent! You never know when nationality will prove to be a unique selling point, so don’t forget to mention it!!

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