December 20, 2010
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NK provocation a chance to enhance Korea’s brand power

The North Korean surprise artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island will not influence Korea’s positive national brand image.

“Korean society was not deterred by the North Korean forces’ provocation, and neither was I, having arrived only seven days after the incident,” explained Bob Pickard, the President and CEO of leading communications consultancy Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific.

Events like this used to have a significant impact on foreign investment. However, things unfolded quite differently this time in Korea. Pickard considered the successful hosting of the G-20 summit as one of the reasons. According to Pickard, foreigners now know Korea given its recent role as the host of the G-20 summit and they also view Korea as a developed country.

“Korea’s geopolitically unstable image was improved by intensive efforts before and after the G-20 summit,” said Pickard. The situation may have been different if the North Korea provocation had occurred before the G-20.

Pickard stressed that Korea should not settle for the status quo. “Korea should focus on making ‘positive contrast’ with North Korea as one of its key brand management strategies and communicate consistently,” said Pickard. He explained that issues should not be centered on negative content, such as North Korean provocations or damage to South Korea. Instead, the ‘positive contrast’ should emphasize the strong attributes of South Korea.

He explained that South Korea should build a ‘mind and smart thinking’ image to reflect sharp contrast with North Korea’s ‘muscle and brute force’ and promote an open image against the traditionally closed stance of North Korea. “Without even mentioning North Korea in the process, the ‘positive contrast’ is made by promoting the strong attributes of South Korea,” Pickard added.

“Three adjectives that describe Korea’s national brand image are: dynamic, passionate, and fast. Korea can succeed by employing different national branding strategies based on these images,” said Pickard.

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