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Branding Finland

I have been often told Aki Riihilahti is a brand. It always makes me laugh. Don’t accuse the blond footballer, I think everyone is a brand! How we carry ourselves and act is the image we give to the world about ourselves. I understand this is a bit away from conventional definition of “branding” and even in the risk that my MBA teacher reads this I would like to say I see no reason why branding couldn’t concern all of us. It really does, whether we like it or not. I don’t really understand either why some think branding has a negative tone on it like someone was deceivingly trying to hocuspocus-force-sell something.

We are all perceived somehow by others so no matter if you are a global corporation or a librarian from Korso you might as well tell a good story about yourself.

Does it matter?

I think it does. You can make a world of wonders in your relations to others and to your society. With branding I don’t mean selling and marketing yourself aggressively, just simply being more open about who you are and what you can do. If nothing else we should at least acknowledge to ourselves that we have much more to cherish for than we think – especially in Finland. We really are the gold medalists of cynicism and under marketing ourselves. For being a country of so much valuable competence, successful people and functional society we really don’t need to hide behind kirves and perkele. I know we aren’t really doing this either but this is the kind of reaction I sometimes get especially former older generations. Moreover, there is nothing wrong being odd either, it can be a strength too!

Yesterday I was appointed to a new committee assigned to help branding Finland. I think and will work like it is an honour. I understand that such a huge and abstract assignment will have many possible downfalls in methods, concreteness and accountability. Some people even feel we should just mind our own business so that we would be left alone. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and I know just by being involved and now writing about this I am an easy target for cynicism and “who do you think you are” –responses. Well, just add that to my brand because I believe in Finland, myself and this project. Thus, I am passionate to work for it. I will rather fail miserably and be laughed at than not try at all (some people say this describes my football career too). And most importantly, I actually think this will be a great success.

The over- flood of positive messages and encouraging responses about this project have so far been beyond any imagination, thank you for your views and the interest, please keep those precious ideas and feedback coming.

I am young, blond and a footballer. So my experience about the image of my country is very limited, mainly based on living 12 years abroad, playing and travelling around the globe in 37 countries, writing over 100 columns for The Times Ltd and every day interacting irrationally on the streets and here at my website. So the thousands of written responses I have received from all over the globe and other things I have experienced are obviously a very limited selection of the whole picture. However, I have been constantly surprised how well our beloved country is been seen.

Sure I am not talking about opinions in the closest pub from Värtahamnen or the 40000 Turkish supporters at Ali Sami Yen Stadium after Litmanen scored, plus there were quite a few parts of Tunisia and Azerbaijan too that weren’t too familiar about thousands of lakes, superior education and outstanding IT technology. I almost had to buy a carpet, though, when they realized Kimi Räikkönen was from my country. Obviously with a special prize for you my friend, that is what Finnish people get too ;) I didn’t buy it but overall I have become convinced Finland is no bazaar and actually considered a good value for the money. So if you ever thought Finland was as cool as Jabba The Hut on a hoodie I can confirm you couldn’t be a further away from truth.

I believe Finland has enormous competences which there is a demand for out there. However, I don’t think Finland and Finnish people need to be sold or aggressive marketed but it would be already a big step forward to start just openly tell who we are, where we come from and what we can do. I know it would interest many. It does interest me and I am passionate about this project. However, I will not take a further stand on it now before the project has effectively started. But I will later and act upon it.

So please keep sending me your views, ideas and any feedback about the subject. This is definitely not a specific commitee project or elitist yearn for cleaning the mirror but a Finnish project. This about you, me, Finland and who we are. And yes, we should at least claim Santa Claus quickly before Sweden tries it.

These views don’t present and are not allowed to be used as official statements of anyone, but only as mere independent views of an independent person from an independent country written on Tuesday when nothing was on at television. Who said I can’t do politics!


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