Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 12, Issue 2–3, pp 139–151 | Cite as

Circulating a fashion: Performance of nation branding in Finland and Sweden

  • Katja ValaskiviEmail author
Original Article


Nation branding is a contemporary, transnationally circulating practice, the most recent feature of imagined nation-making in the global history of nations. While earlier imaginations of nationhood rooted their ideas and philosophy in core political concepts, such as citizenship, national sovereignty and democracy, the social imaginary of nation branding takes its theory and practices from marketing. The paradox of nation branding is that it is a method of distinction adopted by nations because other nations have done it. As a practice, nation branding is thus a circulating fashion of governance, a performance necessary for modern nations to adopt to maintain their status as competitive states in the global economic competition. The paper compares the nation-branding strategy documents of Finland and Sweden (2005–2013). The strategies of the two countries bear a remarkable resemblance to one another. Some of the similarities can be explained by their close cultural proximity. Nevertheless, comparison exemplifies how the global fashion of nation branding becomes a localized performance which requires the pretence that the process is unique within each nation. In other words, the imagined community of the nation and the legitimacy of branding are sustained through the belief that while everybody else is also branding their nation, ‘our’ brand is uniquely authentic.


nation branding authenticity innovation Sweden Finland promotional field 



The writer wishes to thank the interviewees of this study, the anonymous reviewers and editor James Pamment for their insightful and helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Centre for Journalism, Media and CommunicationUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

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