In mid April, Albania – advised by Alistair Campbell – invited companies from across the world to make branding recommendations to their government.
The focus for growth is tourism, inward investment and opportunities for the next generation.
Spring teamed up with comms partner, Hemington Consulting, to develop a brand communications strategy. In May, we were delighted to be invited to Tirana to present these to Albanian government ministers, international politicians and communications advisors, and Albanian business people.
In the spirit of transparency nurtured by countries recently emerged from communism, our talk was broadcast live on the Albanian news channel.
I’m a great advocate for the undiscovered. I’ve written before about my refusal to accept ‘hidden gems’ (if somewhere’s genuinely a gem then it deserves to be found) and Albania is a great candidate for that title. A southern Mediterranean country between Greece and Montenegro, its 400km of stunning coastline is increasingly popular amongst savvy travellers.
A feature of the country that makes it especially attractive to walkers, cyclists and nature fans is the ease with which visitors can get to the mountains from that coastline. Sparsely populated, the rugged inland landscape rewards explorers with beautiful views, fabulous walks and extensive wildlife.
The diet is very much Mediterranean – fish, lamb, lots of salad and cheese pies dominate. Local wine is delicious, light in style and very easy drinking. The country has a very clear character: even the capital, Tirana, has not yet been swamped by global megabrands.
There’s a strong sense of place here, without it being inaccessible.
Albania’s cultural heritage is extraordinarily rich and complex. Over the course of years, various civilisations have passed through, taken ownership and left their mark. Archaeologists flock here, and finds through the years have included Durres’s Roman amphitheatre, the Greek city of Antigonia and Illyrian tombs near Pogradec. More recent history can be seen in buildings left behind from Communist times, including the former Palace of Culture in Tirana, now simply the Opera.
The population of Albania is small – under three million – and it’s essential for the government to create compelling reasons for its next generation to stay. Education is set up to support growth sectors in the country, and it’s clear that there is real appetite for success in the government and people of this beautiful, fascinating country. I sensed the atmosphere in Tirana 2014 that I had last experienced in Prague 1994: one of real determination to collaborate and grow.
Spring created a brand identity which drew upon the Albanians’ iconic eagle, allowing for adaptation across various uses from tourism, to industrial investment, to the green economy.
Our communications proposal focuses on an intensive digital content strategy, in-sourcing aspects of creative production including film, photography and editorial. It’s important to work with Albanians as much as possible on their own global communications: apart from anything else it’s ethical to ensure that as much budget as possible stays within their country.
Hemington has built up a tightly focused two year communications strategy which targets specific audiences with a predisposition for aspects of the Albanian offer. A programme of research, ambassador recruitment, cultural and sports initiatives, and media relations allows Albania to build up a credible profile in three stages – from ‘hidden gem’, to ‘expert choice’, to ‘mainstream’.
We’re delighted to have been able to deploy our destination marketing experience for this delightful and welcoming country.