“What does the world know about Tatarstan today? KAMAZ, Rubin and Minnikhanov”
Talia Minullina, the head of the Investment Development Agency, invited Japanese strategist Ken Fujino to develop a single brand on the territory of Tatarstan
Talia Minullina, the head of the Investment Development Agency, is thinking about a single brand for positioning Tatarstan. “What does the world know about Tatarstan today? These are the KAMAZ truck, Rubin football team, and President Minnikhanov," she listed the most popular associations with the republic heard anywhere in the world. Ken Fujino, the famous expert in territory branding, head of Japanese N37, shared the rules for strategy development, calling for finding a bright personality in the image, at a meeting in the Investment Development Agency.
How to sharpen the “weapon” of regions
The main “weapon” in the struggle of regions for tourists was and remains a strong, recognizable brand — something for which they come to see and stay. Taking advantage of the forced “respite” due to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the head of the Investment Development Agency, Talia Minullina, invited the representatives of the tourism business to the meeting with the master of branding of local territories. The head of Investment Development Agency, it seems, has aimed at reformatting the tourist image of the republic and attracted for this purpose Japanese expert Ken Fujino, who is participating in the rebranding of several Russian regions of the Russian Federation.
But before his speech, Talia Minullina outlined the overall picture of country brands, that is, countries with strong global brands. Along the way, she noticed that she had been dealing with the problem of branding territories for a long time, and on a scientific basis — when she was writing her thesis. The head of the agency did not have time to finish it, but she thoroughly studied the fundamentals of territory marketing.
Russia is not in the world rankings of country brands
She said that in the last 20 years, the world has been actively discussing the issue of how much territory branding is related to socio-economic development and how territories actually differ from each other.
“Recent studies show that authoritative expert bureaus rate the countries according to two different principles," she said. “The first one is based on socio-economic indicators. In it, the top three are occupied by the United States, China and Germany. The second rating is based on an opinion poll. Here, the first is Singapore, the second — Switzerland, the third — the Netherlands.
There is a large number of such ratings in the world, but Russia does not get into the top 10 in any of them, the head of the agency added. This means that our regions are also falling out of the attention of international investors. According to Talia Minullina, it is important to make Russia and Tatarstan stand out for their uniqueness and be recognized by world experts.
However, you should not think that the leading brands are guessed right off the bat.
“Once, at a meeting of representatives of investment agencies from all over the world in Dubai, McKinsey experts suggested that we look at the presentations of 10 unnamed countries and identify them. We were told about each of them, what tax benefits, logistics, and raw materials they offer. And we, “investors” from all over the world, were able to
identify only two countries!” Talia Minullina admitted. “Why? Because the brand of the territory was not read from the first “notes”, did not demonstrate uniqueness.
Continuing to discuss this topic, the head of the agency reported that Tatarstan has three similar brands in its portfolio, united by the end-to-end word “Tatarstan”. These are Invest Tatarstan, aimed, as the phrase suggests, at investors; Made in Tatarstan, which represents production for export; and the actual tourist brand Visit Tatarstan (it is promoted in international social networks). How effective they are has not been evaluated. But it is clear that because of their impersonality, they do not create a bright visual representation, do not create an image, so they do not express the uniqueness of the republic, not only in the tourist sense.
Do we need a single brand of Tatarstan?
Talia Ilgizovna expressed the idea to combine these brands for a bright positioning of the territory of the republic.
“We don't have a single brand of Tatarstan yet. We just say that this is the territory of success and the entry point for international companies," she explained. “And today our meeting should suggest how to combine the three brands and get a synergistic effect. Somehow to connect them and organize something new.”
Later, in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya, she revealed the most popular Tatarstan brands in the world. “Tatarstan is recognized by KAMAZ, Rubin football team, and, of course, by President Minnikhanov.” Maybe a single brand will be built from these images?
But why has the idea been thrown to travel companies?
This can help tourism, Minullina believes. After all, branding will be accompanied by an emphasis on the larger picture, which will be added with attractions and cultural values.
Ken Fujino — about sunflower plantations and ski resorts
The head of the Japanese company N37, Ken Fujino, responded to the idea with lively interest.
“What do people look for in their trips?" the master of territory branding strategies reasoned. “People are looking for true values — things that don't exist anywhere else.”
What is the “value that can't be found anywhere else” presented to the world? As an example, he cited the huge sunflower plantations that exist only in two countries — in Japan and Spain. Given the climate, tourists choose sunny Andalusia, he said.
In the age of wide access to information, people are increasingly going on trips. “In our time, when information is not so easy to get, we need to understand who we really want to deliver it to," explained Fujino. “Just posting on the Internet is like pouring a glass of water into the desert.”
Proximity to megacities plays an important role in branding the territory. Fujino gave an example — YUZAVA ski resort is a 70-minute train ride from Tokyo. There they had to work seriously on marketing. “The ski season lasts only 4 months. We need to make sure that people do not want to leave on the same day, taking advantage of the proximity to the capital of Japan," he outlined a task that is more relevant than ever for the Kazan ski resort Sviyazhsky Hills.
The Japanese found a recipe for holding “for two and three nights” due to marketing price decisions. As a result, the resort is visited by up to 3,6 million skiers aseason, although only 160,000 of them are foreigners. However, they have a stable winter cover and almost no snow melting.
Adjustment for coronavirus: with China — by correspondence
During the break of the meeting, Talia Minullina talked to journalists. She said that before the coronavirus outbreak, tourist traffic was growing by about 8% a year.
“In 2018, 3,4 million tourists visited Tatarstan, and in 2019 — 3,6 million people. Our uniqueness lies in the fact that we have three UNESCO sites. Next — Innopolis. This is a
rather unique territory in Russia. There may be new brands, but they need to be created in a targeted way," the head of the agency said.
Turning to investment activities, she said that negotiations with Chinese investors continue via e-mail, and business trips and meetings have been postponed on the recommendation of the Russian foreign ministry. According to Realnoe Vremya, meetings with Chinese companies that have reserved land lots in Alabuga SEZ have been postponed.
“At the stages we are at, you can't just roll back. Investments have already been made in the project documentation, you can't just stop it. We understand that this will end some time and go down, but it is not clear where the peak point is," Talia Ilgizovna commented.
But meetings with representatives of other countries continue — for example, there have been talks with employees of companies from Saudi Arabia. Journalists asked what measures are taken to prevent infection by the head of the agency. “I do not take special measures. I always try to stay calm," she said. And really, they were not wearing masks in the agency.