35% of our country's GDP comes from exports. The well-known "Marca España" helps in many sectors to establish a competitive advantage over companies from other countries. The director of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum, Pablo López Gil, speaks with us about what “Marca España” is and how it influences the internationalisation of Spanish companies.
Is there such a thing as "Marca España"? Is it known if it has any specific origin?
The concept of country branding originated in the world of marketing, where the term 'country branding' or 'place branding' is used to refer to the management of the communication and reputation of countries, cities or territories as brands, mainly with the aim of attracting tourism and, to a lesser extent, investment. Today the approach is much broader, encompassing a whole series of dimensions ranging from political and cultural influence to business competitiveness. Brand Spain is therefore the intangible value of our country's reputation abroad. It is made up of the perception held in other markets about aspects such as culture, leisure, sports, lifestyle, the activity of our companies, its leadership in certain sectors... The country brand can be a factor that adds value to a company for its international competition, that is, it can be an attribute that gives it a competitive advantage. Spain enjoys a fairly positive country image. According to the Country RepTrak study prepared for the Real Instituto Elcano, our country ranked 14th in 2021 among the 55 leading economies in the world, above countries such as Italy, Portugal, Germany or France.
Do national companies benefit from the value of the "Marca España" when exporting to international markets?
As I mentioned earlier, country branding can be a factor that adds or subtracts value to companies when competing internationally. It is an attribute that can determine the decision of investors, consumers or employees, among other stakeholders. But the impact is not the same for all stakeholders or in all markets, and of course it also varies by sector.
It should also be stressed that the reputation and prestige of Spain's companies abroad also make a fundamental contribution to Brand Spain; it is a two-way relationship. In other words, the competitiveness of our companies and their prestige abroad is a fundamental factor in building the overall image of the supply of Spanish products and services.
Is there any industry that benefits more from being "made in Spain" than another?
Yes, Spain enjoys good prestige in "soft attributes" such as culture, gastronomy and lifestyle, from which sectors such as tourism, textiles and food and beverages benefit. However, despite the progress made in recent years, our country suffers from a worse position in "hard attributes" such as technology and innovation, or in the quality and excellence of its products and services, something that has repercussions in more technological sectors. At the Leading Brands of Spain Forum, we believe that this is largely due to a lack of knowledge of the business reality in Spain, sinceSpain has leading companies at the international level in almost any sector. We must therefore work on the reality, redoubling our competitive bet on technology and innovation, but also a communication effort, making known this relatively unknown reality, these hidden champions. From theTrademarkForum, we also work so that Spanish companies in all sectors bet on the brand as a differentiating factor that provides intangible value to our companies and that constitutes a source of recognition in other markets. That the competition of our brands derives from a commitment to their added value rather than their price, which results in a greater strength of the competitiveness of our companies and, therefore, of our economy and our image.
How does the internationalization of Spanish companies benefit the country's image?
Well, it is a very important factor. The Spanish economy is quite internationalized, since 35% of its GDP is represented by exports, behind only Germany, among the major economies, and ahead of France and Italy. This fact clearly benefits the country's image, since the quality of products and services in other markets is perceived by different stakeholders who form an opinion about the country as a whole. As I mentioned earlier, the relationship between companies and country brand is a two-way relationship, a virtuous circle in which both companies and country of origin benefit. In many cases and sectors, companies are spearheading markets where they succeed due to their differentiation and excellence, and promote a very positive country image.