Colombia is passion!
In 2004, Proexport Colombia, the quasi-government agency that promotes exports, investment attraction and tourism, hired ICI Partner David Lightle to create a long-term brand for Colombia.
Long considered to have one of the worst images in the world, Colombia was desperate to overcome the image problem in order to open those critical doors to its exports, investment attraction and tourism. Its economy had long been stagnant, largely as a result of the poor image. Most foreigners do not dare travel to Colombia thanks to the country’s image for drugs, violence and guerilla warfare.
As in the case of Made in Taiwan, however, a gap exists between that perception of the country and the reality. Colombia is actually a very beautiful county, filled with friendly and happy people. It is very diverse and colorful, with distinct regions and ethnic groups. With a new president in 2004, Colombia began to make big changes in its security environment. This led to astounding progress on the economic scene, as Colombians felt free for the first time in decades to pursue business. But the image still created difficulties, not unlike the discount that hurt Made in Taiwan. The government and private sector had no choice but to commit to a long-term effort to close the gap between perception and reality by more aggressively promoting the country’s positive features, mainly along exports, tourism and investment opportunity lines.
And, like the Made in Taiwan case, Colombians were at first skeptical that a single brand could be uncovered to represent the whole country. They argued that Colombia is too diverse, too divided for any single brand to unite them. Indeed, Colombia is divided geographically by mountains. And it does have many ethnic groups within each of those clearly defined regions.
Yet, after three months of research, and the application of the Drop Formula distillation process, David Lightle was able to uncover a single, unique, common and very marketable brand essence for Colombia. It also united the people of Colombia as never before. And the answer was: PASSION! Many countries are known for having a passion for something. English—soccer. France—fashion. Italy—design. USA—football. And so on. But Colombia is different than everyone else. Its people are passionate about EVERYTHING they do. Family, religion, education, sports, art, music, but most importantly (or most relevant): Colombians are passionate about their work. They work hard and play hard. They are creative, resilient, persistent. But the one quality behind all those, and which contributes most to their national identity and prospects for future success, is PASSION! Thus we arrived at the creative positioning COLOMBIA IS PASSION! (as opposed to Colombia has passion.
An identity was developed that captured the various popular images of passion all in one logo. Surveys revealed that people usually think of hearts when they think of passion. Other top answers were: Bright flashy colors, such as red; flowers; flames; and a woman’s curves. David Lightle led a design team of Americans and Colombians who created the identity that wraps all of these images into one living logo seen below:
Colombia is currently engaged in a large-scale domestic communications program to build support for the new country brand. It is also using the campaign to raise the funds needed to launch the campaign internationally, perhaps later in 2007. It has already helped soften the country’s image, and is a leading factor in Proexport’s efforts to open the doors wider to exports, investment and tourism. All three sectors are up by more than 25% since the inauguration of the campaign in 2005. Click here to view case study graphics in PDF format.