DES: The race for the prestigious Top Five Country Destinations is hotting up.
TINA: With brand leaders - France and Spain - in complacent mode, it's a unique time for Italy to regain its No.4 spot from China, while Brand America, at No.3, experiences a temporary blip in its global reputation.
DES: The dominance of France's wine culture is being gradually eroded in many geographic markets by the onslaught of New World wines. While Spain sadly flits from one brand idea to another - from 'Spain Marks' to 'Smile, you are in Spain'.
TINA: So this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Brand Italy to find a big brand idea with a future-focus instead of just relying on its powerful regions, resorts and cities - Tuscany, Sardinia, Rome, Florence and Venice, to name just five destination sub-brands.
DES: Italy's big brand idea needs to transcend the whole of the country. You should ideally find it in its geography, its history, and most importantly - its people.
TINA: For me there can only be one word that describes Italy's big brand idea - Design!
DES: I agree. Design flair comes built-in within the DNA of most Italians. They come pre-loaded with designer genes.
TINA: Witness the daily domestic ritual of the collective evening stroll - the passeggiata - a sociable affair in every Italian city, town and village, where the strollers become mobile VDUs - visual display units.
DES: Add the fact that Italians excel at circumventing rules, and you have the perfect platform for developing designs that are futuristic or functional, elitist or democratic.
TINA: From the Renaissance to the modern era, Italian design is seen and experienced everywhere. At home - in interior designs and exterior architecture & landscapes, as well as abroad - American furniture, Japanese cameras, German luxury cars, and French family cars.
DES: Welcome to Italy: The World's Design Studio.
TINA: Or as the Italians might say: Benvenuti in Italia: lo Studio di Design del Mondo.
'Brand' the Marketect says:
"Country brands should avoid falling into the 'we-have-something-for-everybody' trap. They should have the confidence to focus on a single big brand idea and allow their sub-brands - regions, cities and resorts - to focus on theirs."
Special thanks to the press office of the Italian State Tourist Board in London for help with this post.