1. Sweat the small stuff. Think precision.
A country can be a great brand. But it isn’t an accident. It takes careful work, pill discipline, and an attention to detail – think of a fine Rolex or Tag Heuer watch. Switzerland is tiny, but by carefully tuning and refining the little gears that run their brand image, they’re ensuring they’ll be winners for generations to come.
2. Refine the recipe. Make it intentional.
The Swiss have thought through all the ingredients of their brand, and the results are published in a fantastic brand manual that speaks for itself. And it’s right there online for the world to see. It is that sense of refinement and building on tradition with consistency that has bred great chocolate and food brands as Nestlé, Toblerone, and Lindt.
3. Trust: the logo is just the tip of the Matterhorn
Trust is not spoken. It must be earned through consistent behaviour over time. You can’t just stick a Swiss flag on your product – even if you’re a Swiss company. The Swiss have very stringent rules and a continuing debate around what high level of quality constitutes “Swissness”. Which leads to better products and more trust, and more value for the Swiss trademark. It’s all tied together.
Swiss banks like UBS and Credit Suisse and indeed the whole Swiss financial industry have built their reputations around the brand promises of “stability, privacy and protection of clients’ assets and information“. This has led to recent wrestling matches over the personal information of US tax dodgers. But even if their hands are forced, the Swiss banks do fight tooth and nail for client privacy.
4. The three key tools of the Swiss brand
A great country brand is adaptable, sturdy, and practical. In the case of brand Switzerland, they are building their brand built around three key tools (“pillars” of their brand platform):
- 1) Reality – the country’s real strengths and limitations, both in the sense of real business assets and liabilities, but also in terms of physical location, historical facts, shifting allegiances, and other tangible influences.
- 2) Existing perceptions – how the country is perceived abroad – for better and worse. The smart brander draws on positive themes that already exist in the minds of outsiders that only have to be tweaked, not created from scratch.
- 3) Intangibles – positive, but subjective, forces driving the country’s brand like a track record of innovation; internal attitudes to themselves (and to change); and all the other internal brands that are already successfully trumpeting the idea of the country in the marketplace.
5. Apply the same logic to your brand.
Read those 3 pillars again, and insert “company” or “charity” or “government service” where it says “country”. Then check out the brand manual linked above.
So ask yourself:How are you doing?
Is your brand running like a Swiss watch, as trusted as a Swiss Bank, as mouth-watering as fine chocolate, or are you just yodelling your customers’ time away on a mountaintop?