Evelin Lambot, coordinator of Enterprise Estonia, which promotes Estonian companies, said that with the brand due to be launched at next year's Eurovision Song Contest, there had been insufficient time for a public selection process. "The contest is in accordance with the law on state tenders," she said.
From a number of French, British, German and Irish companies the proposal by Interbrand Newell and Sorell, an international advertising company based in London, was considered the best.
Contributing to the success of the bid was its proposal to involve Estonian public relations and advertising companies. This would mean a significant part of the 8 million kroons ($470,588) allocated to the project remaining in Estonia, said Lambot.
Developing a brand identity for Estonia would involve much more than spending 8 million kroons, she added. Enterprise Estonia estimates Estonia should spend between 35 million kroons and 55 million kroons per year on image-building.
Penny Harris, director of Interbrand Newell and Sorrell's London bureau, told The Baltic Times the company was working closely with Enterprise Estonia, to identify all "relevant parties" who should be involved in the project. "We believe it to be very important to involve the widest range of stakeholders in the consultation and decision making process in order to get the best results and to ensure the people of Estonia feel ownership and pride in the positioning of their country," said Harris.
Interbrand Newell and Sorrell envisages involvement from the Estonian marketing community, the broader business community, government bodies and agencies, cultural representatives, opinion makers and members of the wider public, she said.
"We are very sensitive to the fact that we are an outside company, but we hope we can provide objectivity and an international viewpoint that will help achieve the best solution."
Half of the team members that will work on the project have already been to Estonia on business, or as tourists, she said. "All eight members of the core team have worked on many international branding projects and come from a variety of backgrounds including brand strategy, design, research and brand valuation."
Commenting on the Estonian brand project, Tarmo Sumberg, adviser to Prime Minister Mart Laar and former head of the Reval Hotel Group, said he welcomed the project. "Estonia is a product in certain sense. And every product needs marketing."
Rain Pikand, a member of the Union of Advertising Agencies, said that creation of an Estonian national brand would not ensure the world rushed to Estonia but would significantly increase the likelihood of this.
"State branding is a relatively young section of the advertising business. Ireland is so far the most successful country in this respect," he said.
Outgoing Estonian President Lennart Meri once said in a New Year speech that Estonia needed its own equivalent of Nokia to enable it to compete at the international level.
New President Arnold Ruutel, said in an online news conference recently he thought Estonia itself - a small but smart and developed country - could be the Nokia Meri was dreaming of.
Interbrand Newell and Sorrell is a member of the Omnicom Group, a marketing and communications holding company formed in 1986. In the private sector its clients include BMW, Compaq, Telia, FIFA, Philips and Swissair but the company has also developed a number of programs for the United Kingdom such as Cool Britannia, Stonehenge and the U.K.'s European Union presidency.