Insights from the Place Branding Seminar: Has the World Fallen out of Love with the Swedish Brand?

Stills from Feb 14th Live Seminar in Stockholm (2) (1) – Blog

By Mahlah Montgomerie-Browne, Account Manager at SWC Partnership.

Last week, I attended UP THERE, EVERYWHERE’s thought-provoking place branding seminar, “Has the world fallen out of love with the Swedish brand?” Led by an illustrious panel of experts from various fields, the seminar delved into the complexities of Sweden’s global image and reputation. So, what 5 things did we learn?

1. The Nation Brand Index

The discussion kicked off with an analysis of the Nation Brand Index (NBI), an annual global survey which evaluates the international image and reputation of 60 nations across six dimensions of national competence: Exports; Governance; Culture; People; Tourism; and Immigration & Investment. The analysis revealed that as of December 2023, Sweden maintains a stable 10th place in global perception, despite a slight dip from its previous ranking. This detailed review highlighted how place branding can be complex, where shifts in perception can be influenced by various factors, from socio-political contexts to media portrayals.

2. Sweden, A Multinational Hub

With its diverse demographic makeup, including a significant foreign-born population (around 20% as of 2022), Sweden emerges as a vibrant multicultural landscape. However, questions arise about the portrayal of Sweden’s challenges in international media over the last 5 years—are they unique to the country, or do they reflect broader societal issues faced globally?

3. Attracting Talent in Sweden

Despite facing hurdles in immigration, housing, and integration, Sweden remains an attractive destination for talent, offering a high quality of life and a commitment to sustainability. The country’s innovative spirit and progressive values contribute to its appeal as a desirable place to live and work.

4. Cultural Perceptions and Tourism

The seminar also explored the influence of cultural representations, such as television dramas, on tourism. With shows like “Love is Blind Sweden” sparking a surge in flight searches, it’s evident that media portrayals, and PR generally, play a significant role in shaping perceptions of a country. Rightly or wrongly.

5. Embracing Change

Drawing inspiration from historical examples, like New York’s rebranding after the 1975 bankruptcy crisis, the seminar highlighted the power of resilience and reinvention. By reframing narratives and leveraging authentic storytelling, Sweden can navigate challenges and redefine its brand identity in the global arena. Afterall, as put by Winston Churchill, “Never Waste a Good Crisis”. In a more recent example of this, SWC tapped into the frustrations of UK business owners following the impact of Brexit and trade, which were turned into a positive to deliver a breakthrough Brexit Fix-It campaign for Wallonia. The campaign promoted the commercial advantages of the southern region of Belgium to British companies, following multiple challenges caused by Brexit. You can read all about the campaign here.

Conclusion: Moving Forward

As we reflect on the insights shared during the seminar, it’s clear that proactive engagement and authentic storytelling are key to shaping Sweden’s place brand. By fostering open dialogue, sharing data-driven narratives, and embracing its rich cultural heritage, Sweden can reaffirm its position as a beacon of innovation and inclusivity on the world stage.

If you like what you’ve read and need help with Place Branding or event hosting, then reach out to our Managing Director to discuss your brief.

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