Brand concept for businesses ready

  • 2002-05-02
  • Aleksei Gunter

Estonian business people trying to lure investment or customers from abroad who may not know much about the country will soon be able to go by the book.

The book, a handbook promoting Estonia to be published May 17, is a tangible byproduct of the Brand Estonia project, the sometimes controversial state-funded promotion program that is now ready to launch.

Businesses in Estonia will be able to distribute the handbook for free through a copyright contract with Brand Estonia organizers Enterprise Estonia, the government's industry promotion arm.

Government ministries plan to make use of the books during the Eurovision Song Contest in Tallinn next month, when tourists and business representatives from around Europe will converge on the Estonian capital.

The Brand Estonia project began in April 2001, when business association representatives lobbied the national government to pay more attention to promoting the country abroad so that foreign companies would not ask elementary questions.

A month later Estonia won the Eurovision Song Contest and became the contest's automatic hosts this year. Last June former Prime Minister Mart Laar's government OK'd plans to come up with a marketable image for Estonia, complete with slogans.

Enterprise Estonia formed Brand Estonia, a special team of local advertising and marketing experts.

"One of our primary goals was to save money on state promotion by using a single and targeted strategy," said Raul Malmstein, chairman of the board of Enterprise Estonia.

He said several state institutions and private businesses had different approaches and kept "reinventing the bicycle" again and again.

"The single identity of the country will create better opportunities for Estonian products and services offered abroad, increasing exports and foreign investments," said Malmstein.

The project included a survey of locals and foreigners about their impressions of Estonia.

The survey results confirmed some basic views of the country: Tallinn still is the country's top tourist destination; Estonian history and culture are fascinating; and Estonia's virtually unspoiled environment is increasingly a draw for foreign tourists.

Another trait, Estonia's fast economic recovery from Soviet occupation, led to one of the project's slogans: "Positively transforming."

The project's logo is a stylish "Welcome to Estonia" in flashy, 70s-style script.

Talks are currently underway with the postal service and the border guards to use the logo as a stamp for letters and in passports.

The new logo is not intended to take the place of Estonia's traditional symbols.

"We (Estonians) will keep the corn flower and the barn swallow to ourselves, but we do not intend to lure the English to Estonia with those," said Evelin Int-Lambot, the head of Brand Estonia.

The Brand Estonia team spent 13.31 million kroons ($760,000) on project development. Three million of that went into things like informational CDs and other materials for journalists covering the Eurovision Song Contest.

The project has been completed despite a chilly reception from the governing coalition that came to power earlier this year, which proposed that the money would be more wisely spent on regional development.