Branding Armenia: ‘It’s time to share Armenia with the world’

Despite what your common sense might suggest, the word ‘Armenia’ is actually not so straightforward.

It can refer to — just to name a few — a territory with long history, an ethnicity with a global diaspora, or a nation searching for an identity with dreams for a better future. How do all of these elements combine to help strategists determine where Armenia is headed in the 21st century?

Vasken Kalayjian, an American-Armenian CEO of GK Tribe Global, a major branding firm with global offices based out of the US, recently released an article in Asbarez about his current efforts underway to “brand Armenia.” Kalayjian is the at the forefront of this mission to “find a brand identity behind which all Armenians can unite” — no easy feat. He says the end result is important for distinguishing Armenia from other countries “competing for the same tourists and foreign investors.”

The phenomenon of nation branding is actually not a new one, even though it is often kept quite under wraps. Since the second half of the 20th century, many countries have taken advantage of corporate branding strategies to reify their national identity to global audiences in the interest of accruing economic and cultural capital.

One of the advantages that Armenia has, in this regard, is that Kalayjian, the ringleader for all of this, is himself an Armenian diasporan. We can hope this means therein lies some level of personal investment in the task. Armenia’s post-Soviet neighbor, Georgia, hired the British advertising agency M&C Saatchi in 2007 to “develop and communicate a national brand.” Successful in “detaching the country from Asia,” one of the slogans was at one point, “Georgia. Europe Starts Here.” (To find out more about how things played out for Georgia, check out Branding The Nation by Melissa Aronczyk).

In the Asbarez article, Kalayjian describes in relative depth the lengths to which he and his team are going to achieve this goal, which starts with “an exhaustive and multi-faceted discovery process,” or, in simpler terms, research. An in-depth study was compiled, spanning 35 countries and consisted of:

-1000 personal interviews

-An online survey with 4,360 responses

-A review of 200+ articles and reports about Armenia from 2006 to the present

-A research team that visited 200+ Armenian sites to uncover and assess the country’s “core assets”

-An audit to determine the competitive market a “branded Armenia” would be entering and how it would hold up against already branded countries.

This is all very hope-inspiring, but the article leaves many questions unanswered. If anything, the results of their research elucidates the immense plurality of ideas floundering about regarding what Armenia is, what it should be, and what are its strengths and weaknesses. One might also find the sheer vastness of their study’s reach intimidating. The participants to whom their team reached out included thousands of individuals from over 35 countries. It leaves one wondering how researchers hope to reach any level of consensus. Following a summary of his findings, Kalayjian prepares the reader to reveal the branding trajectory:

“After careful consideration of such comprehensive findings, it seems that the greatest and most viable potential for Armenia’s brand lies in emphasizing the emotional and/or “high order” attributes. A high order descriptive usually coalesces around intangible attributes of the society and its people and less on conventional asset-based propositions such as location, climate and other material features.”

Behind the jargon, what this paragraph really says is that strategists have decided not to rely on Armenia’s concrete and material assets, like its weather or its brandy, to attract future interest. At least not directly. Instead, they will focus on the country’s more abstract, ‘intangible’ assets. The question remains how Kalayjian and his enormous team of researchers plan to consolidate all their research to create a unifying brand that will appeal to all parties — both Armenian and non.

However, one thing is for certain, this project is of great significance for Armenians everywhere. It affects everyone and anyone with any kind of investment in the country, whether emotional or financial. Perhaps it’s one thing on which we can all agree; that changing the country’s image both out and inside of the Armenian community is an important step. As one of Kalayjian’s participants so aptly put it: “It’s time to share Armenia with the world.”

Read the original article here.

Այս հոդվածի հայերեն տարբերակի համար սեղմեք այստեղ:


Originally published at imyerevan.com on 03 October 2014, 16:55.