Create a new `Romania` brand for a modern European
country, with a diverse and rich culture.
States are increasingly aware that image and reputation are integral
parts of their economic and diplomatic success. As in the case
of branded products, a state`s identity becomes an important aspect
of its performance on the international stage.
A state`s distinct image and its public perception can either enable
or hamper its public diplomacy.
After more than forty years of Communist dictatorship and twelve years
of painful post-communist transition, Romania has yet to find
its rightful place in the family of European nations.
Beyond the travails of its slow economic reforms, its uncertain
democratic progress and, at times, fraught ethnic relations, little
or no attention has been given to the way the country is perceived
by the outside world. The fact that the country`s image of itself
and abroad is an essential ingredient in the long process of regeneration
has been overlooked in the day-to-day struggle to keep afloat.
However, it is becoming obvious that the type of public diplomacy
necessary to create a positive brand image for Romania cannot
be left solely to the Romanian government and its diplomatic service,
but needs to be supplemented with contributions from non-state
actors, whose reputation for independence will deliver a credible
Role Of The Ithaka Foundation
Inspired by the generation of 1848 Romanian patriots who, upon
completing their studies in the West, returned home to build the
basis of the modern Romanian state, the Ithaka Foundation aims
to be one of the factors and actors working to create a new generation
of modern, forward-looking Romanians who can lead the country
into a democratic and prosperous 21st century.
Analysis of current efforts at promoting a positive Romanian
brand show that at best Romania is unknown to the Western public
and at worst it has a negative image: children abandoned in nightmarish
orphanages, environmental disasters, ethnic discrimination, corruption,
poverty. These aspects all but obscure the positive elements:
its rich culture, the beauty of its natural enviroment, the rich
folklore, its interesting linguistic heritage, its exhaustive
The current official message is not only feeble but it is being undermined
by the widespread corruption and lookwarm attitude to democracy
of successive governments. There is a great need for civil society
to get involved in creating a positive image both for a new generation
of Romanians who look upon emigration as their only hope for the
future, but also for potential investors who are being deterred
by the negative brand of the country.
• Commission initial research to assess the state of brand `Romania`.
Use this as the basis for a public debate on the Romanian identity
at the beginning of the 21st century. Organize the conference
`Branding Romania` and follow-up seminars aimed at journalists,
academia, business leaders, civil servants.
• Organize cultural, academic and business exchanges, in
order to develop long term relationships between Romanian business
people, key academics, cultural entrepreneurs and their counterparts
• Commission a survey of the Romanian diaspora in the European
states where it is mostly concentrated. Co-opt members of the
diaspora in the project of building a modern brand for the Romanian
state (Romanians vs. Romania) – (might Yvette be interested
The European dimension
So far, Romania`s voice in Europe has been almost silent. Rather
than engaging actively with its neighbours and with its future
European partners, Romania has passively accepted programmes and
initiatives generated somewhere else. Romania`s identity is uncertain,
badly defined on the European stage, in urgent need of re-thinking.
The Ithaka Foundation is convinced
that building up a positive brand for Romania will help its anticipated
admission into EU in 2007. This will be a long and painstaking
process, depending on the economic, social and political progress
the country makes, but also on how its reputation and image is
perceived by `consumers` abroad.
The benefits of this approach can be measured in concrete terms:
• Stemming the brain drain and attracting young entrepreneurs
• Increased foreign direct investment
• Better opportunities for Romanian businesses abroad,
which will benefit from a positive State brand
Project by: Roxana Wring