The aim of the roundtable is to bring together and foster communication between public authorities, public figures, representatives of the Romanian industry and business, and all other interested parties, in particular foreign investors. This needs to build on previous efforts of industry, investors and government agencies. The objective is to avoid, and go beyond, the stop and go approaches and ensure professionals have a leading role.
Country branding is one of the hot topics on the agendas of many countries today and one of the most disputed political concepts of our time. From Spain to Singapore, every country is trying to build a clear and successful national brand in order to be able to remain/become competitive. However, Romania is unknown to most of the world. In the 2010 Nation Branding Index, Romania ranked 92nd, lower than countries such as Uganda or the Island of Saint Lucie. Even worse, it has dropped 10 positions compared to 2009. Therefore, for most, Romania just simply is not the map. It is not enough to spend resources and energy on creating a tourist slogan, which does not reflect local realities and does not include the cultural heritage.
There is a strong need to keep away from exclusively promotion campaign approaches and focus on the true Romanian brands, such as the IT industry, Dacia or the Romanian wines, bio sector etc. In order to be successful in redefining perceptions, this branding process needs to influence and inform the policy making and fundamental policy decisions that establish national priorities in the economic field. Without an accurate correlation between national, regional and corporate and investors' priorities, the synergies needed to induce change will not occur and even the best approach or creative solution will fail.
Moreover, Romania lacks a positive and a clear national identity, without which a strong and recognizable country brand makes no sense. Romanians today seem to have lost their national pride. Ideally, the process of building a national brand should start with first understanding the national identity: who we are and what we want as a nation. Only after this stage, can we begin to share this message with the rest of the world.
The Aspen Institute proposes to bring together all interested parties around a one-day, closed-doors round table, to discuss shared challenges, perceptions and vision, instruments to better coordinate, necessary levers and conditions to generate a favorable environment for more efficient action. The main goal of the event was to create the circumstances for informed (and continued) dialogue around key issues, and generate concrete proposals for creating a clear and coherent country brand. The Institute can build on the results and experience accumulated through the organization of several successful consultations on country branding and use its ability to foster fruitful dialogue in a neutral and professional environment.
At the same time, the starting point of the discussion needs to reflect those specific, if isolated, areas in which Romanian products, individuals, or sectors have come to have international visibility and recognition. Instead of looking for the blueprint for a campaign, this would rather create sector and national USP's, a framework for policy decisions, not just promotion and communication.
An underlying aim is to use this pragmatic community of experts and select citizens for a profound reflection on the Romanian national identity and to identify which are the most powerful Romanian brands; for a better coordination of different actors towards achieving a thriving rebranding of the country; and for building a platform for sustained dialogue for long-term success.
Key speakers included Sandra Pralong, CEO, Synergetica Foundation; Oana Marinescu, Project Manager, 100%.ro; Mihaela Nicola, CEO, The Group; Bogdan Theodor Olteanu, Partner & Managing Director, BorţunOlteanu; Ivan Patzaichin, Rowmania; Dan Puric, Actor; Corina Vinţan, CEO, Links Associates; Anca Harasim, Executive Director, AmCham Romania; Hary Olaru, Romania, CE & Baltic Delivery Center Leader, Partner IBM Global Business Services; Mihai Constantinescu, Executive Director, George Enescu Festival; Ivan Patzaichin, President, „Ivan Patzaichin - Mila 23" Association;