It is a very crowded world out there with every country making lots of noise about itself. The simple truth is that no one will pay attention, much less remember what Turkey is saying, unless we are very clear about “Who we are?” and “What we stand for?”
However, for the last 10 years, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office has been spending increasing amounts of money on communication without having a clear long-term strategic idea about what Brand Turkey stands for.
Every year, a new advertising company is brought in and a new message devised; but this constant reinvention betrays a complete lack of understanding of the fact that a country’s reputation is built through a sustained message and not in a year’s campaign. Furthermore, in a world where everyone is shouting, shouting louder is not going to help; spending more on communication is not helping to reflect our personality and doesn’t differentiate Turkey in any meaningful way because it doesn’t convey an authentic experience of Turkey.
In Turkey, we think that advertising and communication are all that is needed to increase brand equity. However, a strong country brand is built around a core idea and a long-term vision, and this is what Turkey has been lacking. Until we understand this, we had better stick to the Grand Bazaar and steer well clear of the global arena.
In 2002, 13 million people visited our country compared to barely 1 million people in the 80s and today, 35 million people visit Turkey annually, which is something we should be hugely proud of. Though visitor numbers are up, it seems that much more needs to be done to reach our 2023 target of 50 million tourists a year, each spending $1000. To do this we need to communicate a strong idea that is authentically and uniquely Turkish.