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Build a brand out of a territory : Iceland

Everyone has heard about Iceland recently. How has this wind-beaten and almost deserted island managed to position itself as a brand with a strong identity? Let’s take a look at the various media campaigns that have made Iceland a territory-brand.

Inspired by Iceland: video and human

Iceland gets it all: to develop its tourism business, the country has positioned itself as a destination-brand. In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupts and disrupts air traffic at European level. This event has an impact on tourism and the country decides to launch an international campaign called “Inspired by Iceland”. By using video to show the island’s authentic landscapes, and putting the human face forward, the campaign is a hit and draws thousands of tourists.

In 2016, Iceland received the EFFIE Grand Prix for the most effective communication campaign. The idea was to put local people in a humorous way. People with the most popular name in Iceland (Guðmundur or Guðmunda) answered questions from foreign tourists about the country. The video-responses were posted on their YouTube channel. This creative idea puts forward the knowledge rooted in the local and the human. It has been compared to Google and described as a human search engine that puts an end to Google’s cold and mechanical responses.

Tourism sector up

The tourism sector then experienced the strongest growth ever achieved. Since then, tourism has become one of the main pillars of Iceland’s economy. The number of tourists is up 20% per year and will reach 1.7 million in 2016. With its brand “Inspired by Iceland”, the country continues to promote thanks to its ever more innovative ideas. They have created the “Island Academy” to train tourists who want to visit the country. By correctly answering the evaluations, they could earn badges which allowed them to live off the beaten path. 

Its latest visitor campaign launched in the summer of 2017 highlighted responsible tourism. Through the “Icelandic Oath,” the country was trying to engage visitors to respect the natural sites.

What to remember from the Icelandic example

  • Make your faults your best assets: Iceland is sparsely populated? Yes, but this destination offers a total change of scenery far from the grueling everyday life.
  • Give envy thanks to visuals: how to better show splendid landscapes than with a video?
  • Take care to have images of optimal quality.
  • Do not forget the human: give him the lead role in your communication.
  • Use humor if you can! It’s always good to laugh and it’s much more punchy.
  • Be consistent throughout your marketing campaigns: keep the same editorial line.

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