In a groundbreaking moment for Bloom Consulting, the team has delivered its first Nation Branding strategy developed together with artificial intelligence (AI). Pleased with the results of their previous collaborations, the client – Essential Costa Rica – trusted Bloom Consulting to create Vision 2035 – an actionable road map to ensure the resilience of the place and its brand in a turbulent world.

“Bloom Consulting has recognised the significance of our Country Brand, acknowledging the uniqueness of Costa Rica and its governance. They’ve evolved into an important ally in the development of our strategy,” comments Adriana Acosta, Marketing and Country Brand Director for Essential Costa Rica.

When Essential Costa Rica approached Bloom Consulting, a decade had passed since the launch of the award-winning Country Brand. With climate change and geopolitics causing a global stir, it was time to review its achievements and how to take it further. After all, to rest on past laurels is to risk being forgotten in times of tough competition.

Image: Just recently, Costa Rica received the Global Excellence Award for sustainability and environmental conservation. Essential Costa Rica

Sustainability – the concept at the core of the Essential Costa Rica brand – though successful for Costa Rica, was no longer distinct enough for the country to compete and stand out on the global stage. Today, sustainability has become a commodity, and almost an unspoken necessity for any future-proof Place Brand. The time had come to find a replacement.

Applying AI to evaluate future scenarios

Bloom Consulting employed AI in crafting a future-informed strategy. The goal was to model and analyse future scenarios and risks, drawing from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, the Mega Trends 2023 report by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, data from a proprietary toolset and the results of in-depth stakeholder interviews, covering the private and public sectors, the fields of education, health and many more. Using these forecasts, Bloom Consulting devised a strategy to ensure the antifragility of not just the brand, but, importantly, the place.

The process involved working closely with all the brand builders to ensure that policymakers do in fact “walk the talk” over the next 10 years. It was one of the first occasions when Bloom Consulting applied its newly launched Nation Brand Taxonomy Model © to establish the most significant areas for strategic improvement.

Image: Bloom Consulting Nation Brand Taxonomy Model ©

New narrative for Costa Rica

The key result of the latest collaboration between Bloom Consulting and Costa Rica is the country’s new narrative focus:

“Boutique country with a wealth of resources and talent, being an articulator of innovation, leadership and comprehensive education in climate change mitigation and environmental preservation.”

This will guide the 11 projects set out in the strategic plan to be rolled out until 2035 and beyond – projects that touch on seven of the 13 Perception Elements constituting the Bloom Consulting Nation Brand Taxonomy Model (c).

While the designated Nation Brand institute will encourage these efforts, they will not have to force a mindset change because Costa Rica is already thinking in this way. A clearer narrative will drive even more relevant action and maintain the desired perception among target audiences.

Image: Adriana Acosta, Marketing and Country Brand Director for Essential Costa Rica

“As Essential Costa Rica, we have the responsibility to position our country as the perfect destination for investment, tourism and the export of the best products and services – all of this through unique storytelling, where Bloom Consulting has participated as the expert advisor in the development of Country Brands,” Acosta continues.

Once a tourism destination, now a world-renowned Country Brand

In the past, Costa Rica positioned itself as a destination for tourism, focusing on its natural assets – dreamy beaches, rainforests, waterfalls, volcanoes and wildlife – as well as the happiness of its people and the authentic experiences that the place could deliver. Then, from its inception in 2013, the Essential Costa Rica brand was designed to be more comprehensive, encompassing the realms of foreign direct investment, export and culture along with tourism.

At the heart of the brand was sustainability – from an environmental, social and economic perspective – and this did not come from nowhere. For years, sustainability has been inherent in Costa Rica’s policymaking efforts. The country invests heavily in nature conservation – 25% of its continental territory and 30% of its marine territory are protected. With 57,1% forest cover, Costa Rica is also home to 6,5% of the world’s biodiversity. What’s more, almost all the energy it produces is renewable.

In a major decision in 1948, Costa Rica abolished its army, reassigning the former defence budget to education and healthcare. Primary education has been free and mandatory for all citizens since 1869. And these are just a few examples of the bold steps that the country has taken!

Graphic image showing elements of Costa Rica's Pura Vida
Four areas of Costa Ricas investments

Establishing the brand helped consolidate both the actions being taken and the messaging about them, and this did not go unnoticed. The Essential Costa Rica brand has since won several accolades, including the 2019 Place Brand of the Year award by City Nation Place. Additionally, since 2013, Costa Rica has risen from number 11 among the Americas in the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking © Tourism and Trade editions in 2015 to four and nine, respectively, in 2022.

In a major moment for Costa Rica, in 2021, Pedro Sánchez, President of Spain announced that Spain aspires to be the “Costa Rica of Europe” in future, aiming to protect its biodiversity.

The media too have helped strengthen the desired perception of Costa Rica. In its analysis, for example, Bloom Consulting found that the country’s efforts in renewable energy drew attention from publications such as Vox, Time and The Guardian to name a few.