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June 2005
Round table: “The referendum regarding the European Constitution, France, 29th of May, explanations and conclusions.”
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May 2005
Colloquium “From Signing the Treaty to a Successful Integration in the United Europe”
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April 2005
Conference in Cluj -“The European Integration, countdown for Romania.”

March 2005
Conference «The future of Europe. What kind of Romania in what kind of Europe?»
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October 2004
French - Romanian conference in partnership with the European Movement

September 2004
Ithaka Foundation and the British Council: debate on "Current EU Policy Issues: A UK Perspective", held at the Titulescu Foundation

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Branding Romania in the 21st Century ®

Create a new `Romania` brand for a modern European country, with a diverse and rich culture.

Background

States are increasingly aware that image and reputation are integral parts of their economic and diplomatic success. As in the case of branded products, a state`s identity becomes an important aspect of its performance on the international stage.

A state`s distinct image and its public perception can either enable or hamper its public diplomacy.

After more than forty years of Communist dictatorship and twelve years of painful post-communist transition, Romania has yet to find its rightful place in the family of European nations.

Beyond the travails of its slow economic reforms, its uncertain democratic progress and, at times, fraught ethnic relations, little or no attention has been given to the way the country is perceived by the outside world. The fact that the country`s image of itself and abroad is an essential ingredient in the long process of regeneration has been overlooked in the day-to-day struggle to keep afloat.

However, it is becoming obvious that the type of public diplomacy necessary to create a positive brand image for Romania cannot be left solely to the Romanian government and its diplomatic service, but needs to be supplemented with contributions from non-state actors, whose reputation for independence will deliver a credible message.

Role Of The Ithaka Foundation


Inspired by the generation of 1848 Romanian patriots who, upon completing their studies in the West, returned home to build the basis of the modern Romanian state, the Ithaka Foundation aims to be one of the factors and actors working to create a new generation of modern, forward-looking Romanians who can lead the country into a democratic and prosperous 21st century.

Analysis of current efforts at promoting a positive Romanian brand show that at best Romania is unknown to the Western public and at worst it has a negative image: children abandoned in nightmarish orphanages, environmental disasters, ethnic discrimination, corruption, poverty. These aspects all but obscure the positive elements: its rich culture, the beauty of its natural enviroment, the rich folklore, its interesting linguistic heritage, its exhaustive talented youth.

The current official message is not only feeble but it is being undermined by the widespread corruption and lookwarm attitude to democracy of successive governments. There is a great need for civil society to get involved in creating a positive image both for a new generation of Romanians who look upon emigration as their only hope for the future, but also for potential investors who are being deterred by the negative brand of the country.

Strategy

• Commission initial research to assess the state of brand `Romania`. Use this as the basis for a public debate on the Romanian identity at the beginning of the 21st century. Organize the conference `Branding Romania` and follow-up seminars aimed at journalists, academia, business leaders, civil servants.

• Organize cultural, academic and business exchanges, in order to develop long term relationships between Romanian business people, key academics, cultural entrepreneurs and their counterparts abroad.

• Commission a survey of the Romanian diaspora in the European states where it is mostly concentrated. Co-opt members of the diaspora in the project of building a modern brand for the Romanian state (Romanians vs. Romania) – (might Yvette be interested in this?)

The European dimension

So far, Romania`s voice in Europe has been almost silent. Rather than engaging actively with its neighbours and with its future European partners, Romania has passively accepted programmes and initiatives generated somewhere else. Romania`s identity is uncertain, badly defined on the European stage, in urgent need of re-thinking.

The Ithaka Foundation is convinced that building up a positive brand for Romania will help its anticipated admission into EU in 2007. This will be a long and painstaking process, depending on the economic, social and political progress the country makes, but also on how its reputation and image is perceived by `consumers` abroad.

Project benefits:

The benefits of this approach can be measured in concrete terms:

• Stemming the brain drain and attracting young entrepreneurs from abroad

• Increased foreign direct investment

• Better opportunities for Romanian businesses abroad, which will benefit from a positive State brand

Project by: Roxana Wring

 

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