Also known as ‘the land down under’, Australia needs no introduction.

Australians aren’t shy about making a name for themselves thanks to their passion for international exploration and friendly, open approach to meeting new people.

As one of the top Nation Brands in the world, the country has a strong reputation internationally as being one of the most liked countries worldwide. Soft power assets such as culture and reputation have spread by way of television and media coverage of the Olympics in 1956, and again in 2000. Image development for some may even date back to their first introduction to the outback in the world-famous movie, Crocodile Dundee.

Today, Australia is perceived favorably by having it all, the land of plenty. It’s a must-see tourism destination for many, it has a favourable business environment, a strong educational system and a sunny, comfortable lifestyle.

Image. The Economist featuring the Australia “case study”.

All this was reinforced by a research study conducted by Bloom Consulting in 2018 when it was commissioned to develop the Australia’s Nation Brand strategy. Bloom Consulting was asked to develop a unified and consistent representation of Australia’s capabilities to improve the country’s global competitiveness, across different sectors.

Capitalising on Australia’s great reputation

Bloom Consulting begun by collecting a comprehensive understanding of international perceptions and evaluated the performance of Australia’s Nation Brand as part of the study.

The company collected data on international perceptions within 10 different markets and five different audience profiles including business people, tourists, students, talent, and global citizens.

“The goal was to understand how relevant Australia was, and how real perceptions were of Australia, especially in the international business community within its strategic markets, such as China and the US,” said José Filipe Torres, CEO of Bloom Consulting.

The results in 2018 showed, not surprisingly, that Australia performed exceptionally well in terms of international perceptions. The country is the number one country in all five areas, showing how strong Australia’s Nation Brand is in the view of international stakeholders.

Image. Benchmarking analysis: Australia’s international perceptions across target markets by dimension.
(Score: 1-very negative to 5-very positive).

Bloom Consulting compared data on other countries such as Japan, Canada, the US, and the UK and  Australia ranked higher in most categories.

Australia is less in demand than its competitors

Despite Australia’s international goodwill, Bloom Consulting’s research also found that a good reputation is not everything when competing in the top league. Australia, for example, is perceived as “too far away” from other markets by many of its target audiences.

Another insight was that international audiences perceived Australia better than Australians perceived their own country. And although international audiences perceived Australia positively (a strong brand ahead of all competitors) in some areas, certain aspects was inferior when compared to direct competitors.

Taking the Nation Branding game to the next level (Strategy)

Thus, the challenge was thus twofold.

Firstly, to improve domestic perceptions so they aligned with international perceptions. Then secondly, to create a brand strategy that would help unite Australians together under one brand.

Bloom Consulting then focused its attention on an international strategy that would  build on Australia’s reputation overseas in the areas of exports, foreign direct investment (FDI), and talent. Part of this process was to define and identify Australia’s Central Idea and create a Nation Brand Strategy, including a framework and consistent narrative to create an effective Nation Brand.

Bloom Consulting identified, through research, local consultations and workshops that would culminate in a Central Idea that reflects what Australia represents. The Central Idea of Australia became ‘optimism’.

Image. Illustration of the “Australian Optimism”.

Optimism is built upon unique and authentic elements of Australians’ national identity. It is rooted in Australia’s history, expressing a very particular and positive way of being in life. Bloom Consulting’s research confirmed Australia is already perceived as an ‘optimistic nation’.

So the goal was to innovate on how to make use of this existing perception. Therefore, the Nation Brand Strategy objective became: To generate a sense of optimism in the world.

Main objective in Nation Branding: Acquired versus new approach

Australia has such a positive and strong brand that it can create powerful positive emotions every time someone hears its name. Therefore, the strategy is about generating a sense of optimism, rather than being perceived as an optimistic Nation.

The question therefore became: How to reach that objective?

To generate a sense of optimism in the target audience’s hearts and minds, it is necessary for the brand strategy to address global challenges in a uniquely Australian way. When Australia embraces a challenge that is relevant today, it will significantly contribute to generating an emotion in the target audiences whenever they think about Australia.

Although addressing a challenge is important, Australia cannot ‘own’ this approach and may run the risk of being copied by other countries if they decide to embrace a similar approach. The way to tackle this risk is to approach these challenges in a unique way, one that can be unique to Australia.

How Australians behave in solving these challenges is what builds a specific type of optimism towards Australia, that no other country can do. It will be relevant to the development of Australia, its cities, states, and territories, and to their interactions with other nations. This is putting the Australian optimism into context and bringing value to the country.

A truly national endeavour (Results)

The next step was to lay the groundwork for making this strategy a reality and ensuring its success. That is to say, making sure it was approved and endorsed by all key national stakeholder groups in the country, including the public and private sectors and the community.

With that in mind, Bloom Consulting visited different states and territories to engage and explain to key stakeholders its research, Central Idea and how all those involved in developing Australia’s Nation Brand can do so, on brand.

Image: Fiona de Jong and team presenting together with Bloom Consulting, the Nation Brand strategy of Australia to a group of stakeholders.

During this time, Bloom Consulting conducted workshops and webinars with a total of 104 total participants ranging from Board Members to CEOs and business managers to marketers. During the Australian states and territories workshops, 150 activation projects were identified and 20 shortlisted by Bloom Consulting and all participants were exposed to the Australia Nation Brand findings.

As a result of all those (and current) efforts, Australia’s Nation Brand strategy became a genuinely national endeavor, with the active support of a nation-wide network of Australia Brand builders across the different sectors and industries, inside and outside Australia, such as governments and ministries at national, state and territory levels, various associations, youth and cultural agencies, and the community. The Australia Nation Brand team and Bloom Consulting published the 14 steps to Nation Branding based on this experience. Available here.

Image: Fiona DeJong, CEO of Australia Nation Brand

“Bloom Consulting’s leadership, expertise and practical experience has seen us take this project from a visionary statement in a document to reality!

There’s a simplicity to the approach Bloom Consulting has perfected and used to inform and guide our strategic objectives then went about delivering them”

Fiona DeJong – CEO of Australia Nation Brand