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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Kosovo - the country brand
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kosovo - the country brand


needless to day, there's a lot of mixed opinion here in pristina about the "country" ad below... most kosovars i have spoken to recognize that their new country is a mess, rife with corruption, officials on the take, no road or building construction standards, people paying bribes to get drivers licenses without even taking - much less passing - a driving test, a national economy almost entirely dependent on imports, and a nonexistent work ethic... they also recognize that there's not a hell of a lot that can be done either short or long-term to fix any of it... meanwhile, there's elections for the municipalities coming up tomorrow that absolutely NOBODY has confidence will make the slightest bit of difference...

here one view, not terribly optimistic, but that nevertheless manages to leave out most of the blemishes i mentioned above...

These days, it’s not just companies that are trying to brand themselves — countries are getting in on the game as well. Half the commercials on international television news stations these days seem to be sappy, upbeat videos extolling the virtues of some nation, many of which aren’t exactly on the tourist map. There’s “Breathtaking Montenegro” and “South Africa: Alive with Possibilities” and one about Armenia whose slogan I can’t remember.

But how do you brand a place like Kosovo, whose very status is disputed and whose name is more likely to conjure images of war and ethnic conflict than the kind of pleasant feelings that make you want to go on vacation there?

Well, the international advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi has now created a slick new television commercial and slogan, “Kosovo: The Young Europeans,” to help burnish Kosovo’s international image and fuel its quest for recognition.

The campaign seizes on Kosovo’s comparative youth in the context of an aging Europe, trying to present it — and its people — as young and dynamic. The average age of people there, according to the campaign, is 25.9.

The promise of Kosovo’s youth is a refrain I’ve heard often from optimistic young people there in recent years. Kosovo lacks great natural beauty or an abundance of memorable architecture (the capital Pristina’s most notable landmark is the boxy and far from charming Grand Hotel) or even really any established modern industry. Instead, young entrepreneurs dream of building a new economic future as a high-tech center by tapping into the Kosovo’s young, well-educated population.

But that will be a difficult task given Kosovo’s still unresolved status — blocked by Serbia, which considers its seccession illegal, it still lacks, for example, its own telephone dialing code or recognition by most international organizations — and the ethnic tensions that continue to divide its population.

Last year, I attended Kosovo’s independence celebrations on a bitterly cold February day, when tens of thousands of jubilant Kosovo Albanians braved the weather to dance on the streets of the Pristina. Kosovo’s Serbs took to the streets too, but in protest, not celebration.

Even then, as Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with American backing, it lacked the basic symbols of a state. On that day, it was the red and black flag of Albania — along with a smattering of American flags — that people waved.

The international community — or at least the part of it that backed the declaration of independence — had made clear to Kosovo’s leaders that their new state had to be a multi-ethnic one, and that any new symbols needed to include Serbs and other minorities. That meant, for example, no black two-headed eagle, like the one on the Albanian flag.

The new branding campaign draws on the new symbols the were developed as part of the independence process, particularly Kosovo’s new flag which has a blue background, the shape of Kosovo in gold and six stars representing its six peoples. It also recalls the independence celebrations, during which giant yellow letters spelling the word “NEWBORN” were erected in the center of Pristina.

The well-produced Saatchi & Saatchi commercial full of beautiful young people is designed to brand Kosovo to the outside world. But it’s not clear yet whether even Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population identifies strongly with the new national symbols it presents. And its clear that at home, there’s still a lot of work to be done building a Kosovo identity that has room for all its people.

here's the ad followed by the rosy verbiage that must have no doubt been written by the ad agency...

The new slogan, which appears as part of the logo, is: Kosovo. The young Europeans.

The slogan is based on the facts that The Republic of Kosovo is one youngest countries in the world, and it's also home to the youngest population in Europe with an average age of 25.9.

This is probably the very first national slogan which turns the spotlight on the people and the human spirit rather than the country, its natural marvels or history.
This is a very strong and confident statement of Kosovos attitude as a country and of its future intentions. It will attract the interest of a range of audiences, from politicians to businessmen, from tourists to donors. All will sense the future potential of this young nation and the positive attitude of its people.

The visual appearance of the logo is very much in keeping with the new generation of national logos in that it has a modern flowing style and an impactful use of colour. Each of the colours featured in the logo was chosen for a specific reason. The green represents the green fields that can be found across Kosovos expansive countryside, the red-terracotta represents the colour of the bricks that are used for the building that is in progress across the land, and the blue symbolizes the sky and water and is taken from the background from Kosovos new flag. The unique design of the letters' font typography is inspired by "the fountain of youth" concept the energy that flow unboundedly throughout Kosovo.

yeah, well, whatever...

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