Brand Israel: Its Evolving Impacts on the Country’s Political Credibility
If we look on the BAV Powergrid at brand Israel in recent years among Americans, we see that brand Israel has been on a strengthening, although zigzagging, trajectory.
By our most recent data-point on Israel, the brand had moved into the top tier of country brands in the US, alongside the perennial country super-brands for Americans of the UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan. This lifts brand Israel higher than its former peer group of such powerful country brands as Italy, Ireland, Germany, and France.
So what is driving these two trends for brand Israel – the zigzagging and the general strengthening over the past decade? The answer is in the BAV pillars, as shown in this chart below, which compares brand Israel to the brands of the other developed countries.
Two pillars are worth focusing on in particular. The first, Relevance, bounces up and down quite a bit, and explains most of Israel’s zigzagging on the Powergrid. The clue to what’s causing those fluctuations in Relevance is that the Relevance drops coincide with significant national security events involving Israel (war, the flotilla, etc), a trend suggesting that those crises create a sense among Americans of greater difference and distance from brand Israel. Interestingly, the bouncing of the Relevance bars has grown more dramatic as turmoil in the region has increased in the last few years. Americans simply seem tired of hearing news about trouble in the region, including in Israel. The good news for Israel is that brand Israel’s Relevance scores recover quickly once the crises end.
The second pillar of note, Esteem, has been on a mostly steady rise over recent years, and has driven the strengthening of brand Israel on the Powergrid. In my blog on what the pillars mean for country brands, I discussed our finding that Esteem reflects a country’s political credibility, i.e. whether people pay attention when the country speaks in the political realm. We suspect that Israel’s increased respect among Americans has evolved in parallel with the shift of Israel’s own focus from the Palestinians – who do not threaten Americans in any significant way – to the Iranians, whose nuclear course threatens Israel most directly, but also poses a major threat to Iran’s long-proclaimed enemy, the U.S. (This shift from the Palestinians to Iran in US-Israel discussions has been reported in a number of places, including Fox News and NBC News.) In other words, Americans pay much more attention when Israel gives its views about the Iranians than about the Palestinians.
Whatever the explanation, Israel’s brand trajectory and the implications it has for the direction of US and even global views about the political situation in the Mideast demonstrates just how important the topic of brand can be, even far outside what may traditionally be thought its normal realm of products and companies. It also is a good example of just how what we often think of as rational-based political discussion can be profoundly affected by the deeper force of emotion that is captured in the concept of brand.