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Place Branding and Covid-19: The impact on international reputation

The main goal of a Place Branding Strategy is the improvement of cities, regions and nations reputation. A bad reputation can have a negative impact on the economic development of places.

However, changing the reputation of a place is not an easy task. It is a slow and long process, because if takes a big effort to change the public opinion. The present viral outbreak may be a time full of reputational changes, and place branding strategies are needed in order to softly manage this crisis.

The impact of Covid-19 on the reputation of China

China was the first place known affected by Covid-19. Its initial actions, when the authorities tried to hide the problem and to silent the doctor who raised the alarm, had a negative impact on the way the world perceives China. However, China reacted fast to this reputational damage, and implemented some actions of international cooperation, such as upgrading its funding to the WHO, manufacturing medical equipment and sending medical teams to Italy to help fight the pandemics. The arrival of chinese doctors was an importante step to help save the reputation of China, so we can see it was not just an altruistic approach. With these actions, the narrative about China’s fault became less relevant.

The impact of Covid-19 on the reputation of the U.S.

The impacts on the U.S. reputation have been stronger and they will last longer, due to the lack of experience of its leaders.

First, denying the scientific evidences about the virus. Then, using the term “China virus”, in order to provoque China during pandemic times. Finally, rejecting social isolation, showed the worst of America values to the rest of the world: placing corporate and personal interests above ordinary people. Fortunatelly, some american leaders responded quickly and effectively. Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newson of California, improved their reputation due to their actions and how they tried to protect their citizens.

The impact of Covid-19 in the rest of the world

Every nations are facing a test to their reputation. The success of South Korea and Singapure will bolster their reputation in many spheres such as culture and industry.

Some european countries have been praised for their early response like Finland, Iceland or Denmark. Portugal and Greece will also see its reputation improved because of a reactive response to the virus. By contrast, UK’s reputation will be damaged, due to Boris Johnson’s lack of attention to the scientific community. Some nations will have enhanced reputation – Germany efficency, Israeli innovation – others will have a turndown – Indian sectarianism, Brazilian’s Bolsonaro.

The world’s leaders need to do and say the right thing, and they need to keep in mind that their words and actions will have a strong impact on their nation’s reputation.

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