The Making of a Green Brand for Denmark

Even though Denmark is not a late bloomer in the green economy, the country now wants to strengthen its global reputation as a green nation. Acknowledging the harsh realities of growing global competition, Denmark back in 2005 established a Globalisation Council led by the Prime Minister that was to analyse the threats and opportunities facing the country in the years to come.


Nation Brand

A year later the Council presented its conclusion and subsequently an action plan for the global marketing of Denmark was formulated, encompassing initiatives of EUR 55m. That was the beginning of a venture into the territory of nation branding. As any other country Denmark is in a state of competition due to economic and cultural globalisation and increasing mobility of labour and capital. In order to gain competitive advantage, differentiation is of prime importance for a nation. One of the most important points of differentiation for Denmark lies in the green area.

State Of Green

To utilize this potential, Denmark now launches a new brand that aims at putting green solutions on the international agenda. In the future Denmark will be known as the State of Green. By means of this brand the government and industry aims to strengthen Denmark’s position as a frontrunner in climate, energy and environment. Through State of Green, Denmark will share its experiences in transforming society and lead the way by becoming independent of fossil fuels, while spreading the message that green solutions are the backbone in this conversion.

When dealing with branding, the most important thing is not what is being said but what actually gets done. Denmark is in the favourable situation that we have a long history in the areas of energy, environment and climate adaptation, which allows us to position ourselves on the green agenda. The legacy of green Denmark dates back to the oil crises of the early 1970s and thus enables us to speak with credibility about adapting our society to a green economy. Denmark has shown that economic growth can be achieved without increasing CO2 emissions. By systematically developing and implementing a number of technologies that increase energy efficiency and make use of renewable energy, we have paved the way for a transformation of society at large.

Having critically evaluated the strongholds of a country, it is necessary to engage in strategic communication and branding in order to get the message out. Simon Anholt, the man who both invented and later killed the concept of nation branding has commented on the ability of Denmark to position itself as the world’s green nation. In his analysis becoming the world’s green nation is not an impossible goal for Denmark – but it certainly will be difficult. In his view, the position is vacant in the sense that no country has yet managed to gain the decisive advantage of the ‘green jersey’.

Other Nordic Countries Already Build

But competition has intensified in recent years. Several Nordic countries have already built up cleantech brands and work hard to market their green solutions. And a number of other countries have recently begun investing heavily in the green economy. A country like Abu Dhabi, for instance, is moving away from an image as an oil state, and aims to become the world leader in green energy via the Masdar flagship project. And Korea wants to be a role model for Asia’s transition to a green economy and has signed ambitious agreements with industry giants such as Samsung.

Consequently it is not advisable for Denmark to rest on its laurels but instead we as a country must look forward and set new goals. What can Denmark do to remain ahead of competitors in the green area? The newly formulated ambition of becoming independent of fossil fuels by the year 2050 draws attention to the country globally. And with the government’s pledge to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent in 2020 the bar is raised higher than in any other industrialized country in the world.

State of Green is to communicate these ambitions while strengthening the global awareness of the fact that there are already economically viable solutions to the climate challenges facing the world. By way of this initiative Denmark is aiming at becoming the leading green nation in the world and hopefully other countries will follow suit. The stronger the competition, the faster the green transformation becomes a global reality.

Over the last ten years Marius Sylvestersen has been working with branding, partnerships and business development in the cross field between public and private sectors – nationally as well as internationally. His main expertise is strategic branding and he is currently working intensively on developing and promoting Denmark as a green nation. Follow Marius on Twitter.