DES: Brussels, Belgium's capital city, has done a fabulous job of building a global brand - Capital of Europe - outflanking its nearest rival, France's Strasbourg.
TINA: However, in doing so, Brussels has sadly ignored its local brand strategy - building the Belgium brand category.
DES: Brand Belgium is in dire need of a future-focused big brand idea if it is to enjoy a prosperous and sustainable future.
TINA: A reality check shows that Belgium is a nation with divided cultures: the people in the north of the country - Flanders - are Dutch-speaking, while their southern cousins - in Wallonia - are French-speaking.
DES: The two halves of the nation read different newspapers, watch different TV programmes, listen to different pop music, and follow different celebrities.
TINA: Outside bi-lingual Brussels, the road signs are mono-lingual to the point of total confusion. Tourists driving from Brussels to nearby Mons or Lille, panic when the signs for the two cities suddenly 'disappear' because the motorway runs through Flanders so the road signs say 'Bergen' and 'Rijsel' - the Flemish names for Mons and Lille respectively.
DES: This north-south cultural clash is the perfect platform from which Brussels can design and develop a brand strategy for its country category - by turning a cultural problem into a social and economic opportunity.
TINA: It's in the intersection of Flemish and Walloon cultures where Brussels can find a big brand idea - for both halves of the Belgian nation.
'Brand' the Marketect says:
Designing and building a brand based on visual and verbal identities is no longer enough in today's hyper-competitive marketplace. You need a cultural brand strategy, in order to take advantage of the many cultural disruptions taking place - locally, nationally and globally (See Footnote).
The definition of culture goes beyond its narrow meaning of the fine arts and the performing arts, and includes the beliefs, aspirations, norms, values, rituals, habits, skills, talents and taboos of a place and its people.