DES: The political divide on the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, has raised an interesting and challenging branding dilemma.
TINA: The world sees the country as one brand, but right now it's in the hands of two different brand owners.
DES: The north (the orange area) is ruled by the Turkish Cypriots, while the south is run by the Greek Cypriots.
TINA: The Turkish Cypriots recently launched a tourism campaign extolling the virtues of 'North Cyprus' and its 'unsurpassed beauty'.
DES: A big branding error on two counts. First, 'unsurpassed beauty' isn't unique, as most islands in the Med qualify for this very subjective attribute - where beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And secondly, 'North Cyprus' is a compass or directional name and lacks any emotional power.
TINA: Also the Greek Cypriots, by continuing to use the 'Cyprus' brand name, have stolen a march on their northern rivals - by proclaiming they are the 'real thing', the 'original and complete package' so to speak. You won't find 'South Cyprus' appearing on any of their publicity material.
DES: This is exactly the brand strategy being used in the far east, in Korea, where the southerners continue to use the 'Korea' brand name, for the most part, while those in the north are relegated to using 'North Korea'.
TINA: The two major exceptions of compass names penetrating the universal mind are Northern Ireland and South Africa - primarily due to both destinations receiving years of negative publicity from 'The Troubles' and the 'Apartheid Regime' respectively.
DES: So what's your recommended brand strategy for the island of Cyprus?
TINA: I would first attempt to get both sides to consider putting their political differences aside temporarily and pool their marketing resources to collectively promote the Cyprus brand.
DES: And if that turns out to be a marketing mission impossible?
TINA: I would then recommend the Turkish Cypriots to only use 'North Cyprus' as a directional name, and create a regional sub-brand - a new name - to position the northern half of the island with its own unique big brand idea. Just as the Algarve region has done - focusing on golf - which in many markets, has now become a bigger brand than Portugal - the country it's located in - a feat which an unfocused compass name like 'South Portugal' could never have achieved.
DES: And what about the Greek Cypriots?
TINA: They should continue developing the Cyprus brand by reviewing their long-standing positioning strategy - The island for all seasons - because most resorts in the Med have the perception of being all-year-round resorts. So no differentiation there. Even chilly Iceland has a similar slogan!
DES: So what big brand idea would you recommend for the Cyprus brand?
TINA: Watch this place. (Hint: Cyprus recently joined the European Union and has a unique strength which could penetrate and dominate a growing and big-spending market segment for most age groups, all-year-round).
'Brand' the Marketect says:
"1. Divide & Conquer: Destination brands will continue to divide and multiply because globalisation triggers the opposite effect - tribalism.
2. Consider Co-opetition: First co-operate with your competitors to increase the size of your target market, then compete for a slice of that bigger market".