A new position for Qatar
By Al Ries.
More money is wasted trying to position a country than almost any other marketing endeavour. Some recent examples of country positioning campaigns that have gone nowhere:
* India: “Incredible.”
* Indonesia: “Remarkable.”
* Brazil: “Sensational.”
* Italy: “Much more.”
* Japan: “Cool.”
* Thailand: “Amazing.”
* Taiwan: “Touch your heart.”
* Austria: “You’ve arrived.”
* Korea: “Be inspired.”
* South Africa: “It’s possible.”
* Malaysia: “Truly Asia.”
Almost every country is incredible, remarkable and sensational in some way. What makes India, Indonesia and Brazil different from every other country? Who knows?
The problem with all of these positioning slogans is that they are too “big”. They try to encompass everything about a country in a few words. As a result, the word or words selected are too abstract. They’re not tangible or down to earth.
Malaysia is “Truly Asia,” but so is every other country in Asia. So where in your mind do you put Malaysia? In a section of your mind called “truly Asian countries”?
Even my home country, the country that invented marketing, has a dull, slogan no one is going to remember: “The United States of awesome possibilities.”
If you want to position a country in a way that will cause consumers to remember your idea, you have to do two things: (1) narrow your focus, and (2) find an idea the country is the clear-cut leader in.
The two are related. Most leadership ideas are narrow in focus. They only cover one of the many good things about a country.
As a result, a narrowly-focused slogan is not broad enough to gather support from the many different vested interests inside the country. So they never get approved.
So what is Qatar? What is Qatar the clear-cut leader in?
Qatar is the most economically-successful country in the world. According to Forbes the per-capita gross-domestic- product of Qatar is $88,000 (QR320,000). Luxembourg is second ($81,000) and Singapore is third ($56,700). Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world and is considerably wealthier than any of its neighbours. So how does bragging about its economic success build a favourable perception for Qatar and its people?
It doesn’t. But what it does do is to create interest in the business community and among the general public about Qatar and the reasons for its economic success.
Nepal and its capital Kathmandu would be just another unknown country in Asia, except for one thing — Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
Everest made Nepal world famous.
“The most economically-successful country in the world” can do the same for Qatar. It’s a platform that allows it to tell its economic story to the rest of the world. Especially its pioneering work in liquefied natural gas.
Qatar also has a story to tell about its upcoming transportation facilities, its deepwater seaport, its modern airport and its railway network plus all the improvements it is making in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
These are all verbal ideas, of course. But visuals can speak louder than words. Laura Ries’s (my daughter’s) book Visual Hammer explores this subject in detail.
What’s a visual hammer? It’s a visual that can communicate a verbal idea. For example, Coca-Cola’s “contour” bottle communicates the idea that Coca-Cola is the original, the authentic cola, the real thing.
Years ago, BMW was a small and relatively unsuccessful German automotive brand. Then it decided to focus on “driving,” using the slogan, “The ultimate driving machine”. But what built the brand was not this verbal idea, but a series of television commercials showing happy owners driving their BMWs over winding roads.
The TV commercials were BMW’s visual hammer.
A visual hammer can be particularly effective when used by a city or country. For example, here are some visual hammers that most people would instantly identify with the countries involved.
* The Great Wall of China.
* The Taj Mahal in India.
* The Pyramids of Egypt.
Some of the most famous cities in the world also have unique visual hammers that help to define and communicate what the cities stand for.
* Burg Al Arab in Dubai.
* The Eiffel Tower in Paris.
* The Acropolis in Athens.
* The Opera House in Sydney.
* The Coliseum in Rome.
* Red Square in Moscow.
* The Ginza in Tokyo.
As Qatar prepares for the 2022 World Cup, an event that will be watched by many millions, the country should consider constructing a “visual hammer” that will forever identify Qatar in peoples’ minds.
Look at what the Bird’s Nest did for China in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Al Ries is the chairman of Ries & Ries, a marketing consulting firm he runs with his daughter Laura Ries in Atlanta, Georgia USA. Their website is: www. ries.com.