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What’s in a brand? Belgium’s regions put their best foot forward

All three of Belgium’s regions – Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia – have gone through a significant rebranding in the past year. As the new logos and marketing campaigns start to roll-out, the regions hope to strengthen their position both internationally, and within the borders of their own country.

Brussels unveiled a new logo and marketing campaign in July 2012, while Wallonia and Flanders have followed suit in the past months. To help position themselves on international markets, all three regions have notably chosen a slogan in English.

Globalization has pushed countries to engage in so-called ‘nation branding’ to help attract foreign investments. The competition has only intensified as cities and regions join the fray. Aiming to attract business, create employment and generate growth, Belgium’s three regions have reworked their international strategy and branding, complete with revamped logos. 

Brussels was the first to go, launching its new marketing campaign in July 2012. Its new slogan “Be.brussels” is accompanied by a simplified iris flower, with a heart-shaped petal. City officials have stated that the choice of the English spelling for Brussels was made to eliminate potential tension between its Dutch and French-speaking communities, while matching the branding of other international cities like Amsterdam and Berlin, which also chose to market themselves in English. In addition, this new logo will help restore coherence to the Brussels brand, as numerous entities had begun using different variations of the previous logo.

The lion of Flanders was kept for Flanders’s new campaign, but was completely redesigned. In the words of Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders: “It is a contemporary lion. The aggressive element detected by some in the previous logo has disappeared. The lion looks very straightforward, is open and self-assured. It looks you straight in the eye.”

The English slogan ‘State of the art’ is meant to emphasize the craftsmanship and know-how of Flanders and will be used uniquely in international contexts. In its recently released action plan ‘Flanders in Action’, the Flemish Government is not shy about its objective: to make Flanders one of the top five regions in Europe by 2020. Flanders’ ambitious strategy has already shown some promise, as the Region was granted the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2014 award.

Earlier this month, Wallonia unveiled its own logo: 5 dots representing a ‘W’ along with the slogan “Feel inspired. Wallonia.be”. The French-speaking region likewise adopted its English name in an effort to reinforce its brand image abroad. Thanks to a shift in industrial policy, Wallonia has been attracting a growing number of investments over the last years, and the revitalized branding aims to continue this promising trend by projecting a younger, more modern and innovative Wallonia.

Evidently, Belgium’s regions are all fully aware of the importance of branding in the global competition for investment, and they are meeting the challenge head-on. These new marketing campaigns come as the recently agreed state reform hands more powers to the regions. But as the regions jockey for position, Belgium as a whole stands to benefit from the increased attention – and, hopefully, investments.

AmCham Belgium looks forward to continuing our strong collaboration with all levels of government.

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