hidden europe 7

Branding places

by Nicky Gardner


what's in a name? A lot of tourist euros, if the name has the right ring to it. hidden europe checks out the current fad for branding places.

The English poet, Lord Byron, used to be someone whom we associated mainly with Italy. And if not with Italy, then with Albania or Athens. It turns out that we are mistaken, and that Byron is the property of the English city of Nottingham. In these days when the branding of a destination is all important, Nottingham is anxious to claim whatever association it can. Robin Hood is evidently not enough for Nottingham in its bid to place itself on a par with Barcelona, Dublin and Krákow as a favoured destination for tourists.

It wasn't so very long ago that branding was reserved for cattle, but nowadays everything is fair game for the branding iron. An article in a Bucharest newspaper in February called for the more focused branding of Romania, a nation that in parts of western Europe often still evokes negative associations or is at best a blank sheet. That newspaper piece carries the timeworn Romanian joke of a foreigner travelling through the country for a first time, remarking: "What a beautiful country! Too bad it's inhabited." One can only conclude that the rebranding of Romania is as much a domestic agenda as a matter of positioning the country in an international arena.

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