Gaining understanding about customers ’mindset and information on their experiences is a precondition for the formulation of an effective country branding strategy. What potential tourists might learn and how they can be made to feel about a place can help small and not very well-known countries compete with bigger and more popular tourist destinations. The article focuses on the effectiveness of Brand Estonia and claims that it is still a challenge, despite the existence of an ongoing strategy. It also favors the revision of the brand identity selection and the promotion of Estonian brand, and supports a customer-based approach for their assessment. Documentary and empirical evidence show that the image of Estonia among its most important target audiences in the field of tourism does not match the Estonian brand identity. The gap in-between was evidenced by the results and content analysis of 24 in-depth interviews made with a selected group of people well acquainted with the country as well as some branding experts. This article contributes to the existing case study literature with findings that also manifest opportunities to strengthen the country brand, if its formulation develops a realistic brand identity and its promotion is based on accurate, unique and appealing ideas. It proposes academic support to innovative or alternative concepts for the country branding, and comments on applications of this study to more specific fields and further research.
Aaker, D. A. (2002), Building Strong Brands, London: Simon & Schuster.
Agarwal, S. & Sikri, S. (1996), ‘Country image: consumer evaluation of product
category extension,’ International Marketing Review, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 44–55.
Andersson, M. (2007), ‘Region branding: The case of the Baltic Sea region,’ Place
Branding and Public Diplomacy, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 120–130.
Anholt, S. (2007), Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations,
Cities and Regions, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ashworth, G. & Kavaratzis, M., eds. (2010), Towards Effective Place Brand
Management: Branding European cities and regions, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
Beerli, A. & Martin, J. D. (2004), ‘Factors influencing destination image,’ Annals
of Tourism Research, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 657–681.
Bellenger, D. N.; Bernhardt, K. L. & Goldstucker, J. L. (2011), Qualitative Research
in Marketing, Decatur: Marketing Classics Press.
Blain, C.; Levy, S. E. & Ritchie, J. R. B. (2005), ‘Destination branding: insights and
practices from destination management organizations,’ Journal of Travel Research,
vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 328–338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047287505274646
Botterill, D. & Platenkamp, V. (2012), Key Concepts in Tourism Research, London:
Braun, E. & Zenker, S. (2010), Towards an Integrated Approach for Place Brand
Management, Paper presented at the 50th European Regional Science Association
Congress, 19–23 August, Jönköping, Sweden.
Brown, T. J.; Dacin, P. A.; Pratt, M. G. & Whetten, D. A. (2006), ‘Identity, intended
image, construed image, and reputation: an interdisciplinary framework and
suggested terminology,’ Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 34
no. 2, pp. 99–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0092070305284969
Creswell, J. W. (2012), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among five
approaches, London: Sage.
Cuba, L. & Hummon, D. M. (1993), ‘A place to call home: Identification with dwelling,
community, and region,’ The Sociological Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 111–131.
Elliot, S.; Papadopoulos, N. & Szamosi, L. (2013), ‘Studying place image: an
interdisciplinary and holistic approach,’ Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 5–16.
Endzina, I. & Luneva, L. (2004), ‘Development of a national branding strategy: The
case of Latvia,’ Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 94–105.
Erm, T. & Arengu, M. M. (2003), Development of a National Brand: The case of the
Estonian brand project, Working paper, Riga: Stockholm School of Economics
Fetscherin, M. (2010), ‘The determinants and measurement of a country brand: the
country brand strength index,’ International Marketing Review, vol. 27, no. 4,
pp. 466–479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02651331011058617
Folkes, V. S. (1988), ‘Recent attribution research in consumer behavior: A review and new
directions,’ Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 548–565.
Garcia, J. A; Gomez, M. & Molina, A. (2012), ‘A destination-branding model: An
empirical analysis based on stakeholders,’ Tourism Management, vol. 33, no. 3,
pp. 646–661. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2011.07.006
Gertner, D. (2011), ‘Unfolding and configuring two decades of research and publications
on place marketing and place branding,’ Place Branding and Public Diplomacy,
vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 91–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/pb.2011.7
Gilmore, F. (2002), ‘A country-can it be repositioned? Spain – the success story
of country branding,’ The Journal of Brand Management, vol. 9, no. 4/5,
pp. 281–293. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540078
Govers, R. & Go, F. (2009), Place Branding: Virtual and Physical Identities, Glocal,
Imagined and Experienced, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hall, D. (1999), ‘Destination branding, niche marketing and national image projection
in Central and Eastern Europe,’ Journal of Vacation Marketing, vol. 5, no. 3,
—— (2002), ‘Brand development, tourism and national identity: the re-imaging of
former Yugoslavia,’ Journal of Brand Management, vol. 9, nos. 4/5, pp. 323–334.
Hankinson, G. (2009), ‘Managing destination brands: establishing a theoretical
foundation,’ Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 25, nos. 1–2, pp. 97–115.
Hsieh, H. F. & Shannon, S. E. (2005), ‘Three approaches to qualitative content
analysis,’ Qualitative Health Research, vol. 15, no. 9, pp. 1277–1288.
Hudson, S. & Ritchie, J. R. (2009), “Branding a Memorable Destination Experience.
The Case of ‘Brand Canada’,” International Journal of Tourism Research, vol. 11,
no. 2, pp. 217–228. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jtr.720
Kapferer, J. N. (2012), The New Strategic Brand Management: Advanced Insights and
Strategic Thinking, 5th edition, London: Kogan Page.
Kamakura, W. A. & Russell, G. J. (1993), ‘Measuring brand value with scanner data,’
International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 9–22.
Kavaratzis, M. & Hatch, M. J. (2013), ‘The dynamics of place brands: An identitybased
approach to place branding theory,’ Marketing Theory, vol. 13, no. 1,
pp. 69–86. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1470593112467268
Keillor, B. D. & Hult, G. T. M. (1999), ‘A five-country study of national identity:
implications for international marketing research and practice,’ International
Marketing Review, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 65–84.
Keller, K. (2008), Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing
Brand Equity, 3rd edition, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Kleppe, I. A. & Mossberg, L. (2005), ‘Country Image: A Reflection of the Significance
of the Other,’ Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 295–301.
Kotler, P. & Gertner, D. (2002), ‘Country as brand, product, and beyond: a place
marketing and brand management perspective,’ Journal of Brand Management,
vol. 9, no. 4/5, pp. 249–261. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540076
Mayring, P. (2000), ‘Qualitative Content Analysis,’ Forum: Qualitative Social
Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.
net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1089/2385 [accessed 01 Mar 2011]
Moilanen, T. & Rainisto, S. K. (2009), How to Brand Nations, Cities and Destinations:
A Planning Book for Place Branding, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Morgan, N.; Pritchard, A. & Piggott, R. (2002), ‘New Zealand, 100% pure. The
creation of a powerful niche destination brand,’ Journal of Brand Management,
vol. 9, no. 4/5, pp. 335–354. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540082
Morgan, N.; Pritchard, A. & Pride, R. (2002), Destination branding – Creating the
unique destination proposition, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Morrison, A. M. (2013), Marketing and Managing Tourism Destinations, New York:
Myers, J. H. & Alpert, M. I. (1968), ‘Determinant buying attitudes: meaning and
measurement,’ The Journal of Marketing, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 13–20.
Nebenzahl, I. D. & Jaffe, E. D. (1996), ‘Measuring the joint effect of brand and country
image in consumer evaluation of global products,’ International Marketing
Review, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 5–22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02651339610127220
Nicoletta, R. & Servidio, R. (2012), “Tourists’ opinions and their selection of
tourism destination images: An affective and motivational evaluation,” Tourism
Management Perspectives, vol. 4, pp. 19–27. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2012.04.004
Nikolova, M. S. & Hassan S. S. (2013), ‘Nation branding effects on retrospective global
evaluation of past travel experiences,’ Journal of Business Research, vol. 66, no. 6,
pp. 752–758. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.09.014
Papadopoulos, N. & Heslop, L. A. (2002), ‘Country equity and country branding:
problems and prospects,’ Journal of Brand Management, vol. 9, no. 4/5,
pp. 294–314. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540079
Patton, M. Q. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd edition,
Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Pike, S. (2002), ‘Destination image analysis: a review of 142 papers from 1973–2000,’
Tourism Management, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 541–549.
—— (2012), ‘Destination positioning opportunities using personal values: Elicited
through the Repertory Test with Laddering Analysis,’ Tourism Management,
vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 100–107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2011.02.008
Pike, S. & Page, S. J. (2014), ‘Destination Marketing Organizations and destination
marketing: A narrative analysis of the literature,’ Tourism Management, vol. 41,
pp. 202–227. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2013.09.009
Roth, M. S. & Romeo, J. B. (1992), ‘Matching product category and country image
perceptions: a framework for managing country-of-origin effects,’ Journal of
International Business Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 477–497.
Same, S. (2012), ‘Country Branding and Experience Marketing: A Perspective on
Sensemaking and Cognition Theories,’ Journal of International Scientific
Publications: Economy & Business, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 286–303.
Stokols, D. (1995), ‘The paradox of environmental psychology,’ American Psychologist,
vol. 50, no. 10, pp. 821–837. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.50.10.821
Szondi, G. (2007), ‘The role and challenges of country branding in transition countries:
the Central and Eastern European experience,’ Journal of Place Branding and
Public Diplomacy, vol. 3, pp. 8–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.pb.6000044
Therkelsen, A. (2003), ‘Imaging Places: Image Formation of Tourists and Its
Consequences for Destination Promotion,’ Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and
Tourism, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 134–150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15022250310003105
Välisministeeriumi aastaraamat (2010), ‘The story of creating Brand Estonia,’ Estonian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yearbook, Tallinn: Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Warnaby, G. & Medway, D. (2013), “What about the ‘place’ in place marketing?”
Marketing Theory, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 345–363.
Wetzel, F. (2006), ‘Brand England,’ Place Branding, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 144–154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.pb.5990052
Yin, R. K. (2009), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 4th edition, Thousand
Oaks & London: Sage.