How do you re-brand a country you might ask? It isn’t easy for sure, but we were intrigued by a rebranding move by Turkey who now want to be called Türkiye; pronounced “tur-key-YAY”. Country rebrands have typically been with a new slogan, shade of colour in flag or even a new mascot. It is quite unusual however to change the actual spelling of the country name. So why was the change made?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long sought that the internationally recognised name ‘Turkey’ be changed to ‘Türkiye’, as it is spelt and pronounced in Turkish. The argument is that the country called itself Türkiye in 1923, following its declaration of independence. A clear-cut reason then.
But the other main argument is that Turkey (or Türkiye) wants to dissociate themselves from the meaning of the word Turkey, i.e. the bird!
Further reasons are that there are a few other negative connotations with the word Turkey. The Cambridge Dictionary has a couple non-glamourous definitions of ‘Turkey’: as “something that fails badly” or “a stupid or silly person,” the network added. The rebrand is starting to make a bit more sense.
But onto the main question, how is the process of rebranding a country and is it similar to a company rebrand? Below are just a few things that have been done thus far, which we gathered:
- ‘Hello Turkiye’ campaign to raise global awareness was launched – showing tourists uttering the phrase from different sites across the country. The state broadcaster TRT World said the campaign’s goal was to “announce and raise global awareness about using the country’s original name.” Though we’d expect this video to have more than 50k views (at the time of writing).
- New branding and tourism board setup – https://goturkiye.com/ – looks very slick ☺
- Lots of legal stuff done behind the scenes, such as registering new name at the United Nations.
- New government website – https://www.turkiye.gov.tr/
- Domestically, all products for export are labelled “Made in Türkiye“
So, we guess the process will be a long one that has made a good start and they’ll need a lot more brand awareness, especially among tourists etc. The good thing is a country changing names has happened before…
In 2020, The Netherlands dropped Holland in a rebranding move. And before that, Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia, and Swaziland became Eswatini in 2018. Further back in history, Iran used to be called Persia, Siam is now Thailand, and Rhodesia was changed to Zimbabwe.
There are therefore some similarities about a country re-branding and a business rebrand and some key fundamentals:
- There has to be a strong reason for rebranding
- Create a new brand identity
- Raise brand awareness
- Have a continual plan of strengthening the brand