Branding A matter of choice

Greek crisis became an international  socioeconomic phenomenon everyone has  a say about. Politicians and journalists in panic,  managed to make the whole world believe the end has come for the Greek people. In  Australia,  people gather used clothes for poor Greeks that have nothing to wear or eat. I'm not saying that there are not people in a situation such as the above, yet, this is not the general problem for most of  Greek people. It is a cash flow problem. The Greeks such as many people in other countries got carried way by banks which were giving away money with only criterion each one's personal income. The same thing happened in United States, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and so on.

But, what did we do wrong? Why is Greece different that other countries? And who is responsible?
What the Greek people did wrong is spend more money than the actually made. At first, they bought houses which were fully financed by the banks. Secondly, they were using  credit cards a lot. A lot of expensive credit cards. Which then they turned into loans in order to avoid some of the interest. But these loans were also expensive. So, to my opinion, the banks were using the Greek people cause they were inexperienced in consuming banking products and because, everything they did through the banks they had to pay . So the banks were charging high interest rates and  penalized customers for every transaction with or without them knowing.

Yet, this was not the problem. The problem became obvious when the country as a country became bankrupted and that was not because the people didn't pay their loans. It was because the Greek government was mismanaging Greek people's money for over thirty years. And in order for them to cover the pubic sector's extra expenses they stared borrowing money . They borrowed so much money that by the  year 2009 they realized they had no more credit . When Greece became a member of European Union  in 1979  was not one of the poor countries to join. But since then, everything changed. In a 'carpe diem' environment in which everyone got carried away Greeks started spending. They spent all the cash they have stashed  away for a rainy day and when that was finished they started to sell real estate their parents managed to acquire after saving money for many years. And finally, when that money finished, they discovered banks. They could borrow money no one had to know about, in order to realized their dreams now; and pay later. Before the Greek people, the Greek government discovered money that were coming in the country from the European union. Money that seamed free.  In my opinion, they would put their signature on anything  without even reading it, to get the cash.( God only knows what they have agreed to.)

Easy money though,  is easily spent.
 Especially when no one is supervising their spending. A lot of stealing took place as well. Corruption among public officers was not the exception, but the rule. And in a drunkenness  of spending for thirty years no one realized that this was impossible to last for ever.
So. Here we are today,  in a public court where the whole world is watching us Greeks to be  humiliated and punished, guilty of being corrupted irresponsible and naive. Never, in the history of time, a country has been exposed to negative criticism for corruption  as much as Greece.

In a socioeconomic phenomenon of this size, an infinite number of answers have been given as to why this happened. Most of which  have some truth in them.
 But, the question we should be asking is not why it happened but if this situation is  irreversible or not.  Many say it will take forever. I was also one of those people wondering if or when  this image of a third world country can changed.

The answer came to me by Peter Economides a marketing manager specializing in branding. Branding has to do with image people  have  of a product. For example: Colgate it is almost synonymous to toothpaste of standard high quality,"the Colgate smile" , which is approachable to almost everyone since it is being sold in the supermarkets. This image of Colgate is not a product luck. It  has been created to us, consumers, by the company's branding management efforts and of course our own experience of the product itself.
Peter Economides recently gave a lecture on rebranding Greece in which he did mention that it is feasible to do so. He gave the example of the well known to all of us Apple computers. A company, that thanks  to the recently diseased  Steve Jobs an inspired man with a vision,  within 14 years,  led Apple out of bankruptcy right to the pantheon of the best selling companies  in the world.

Therefore, rebranding greece is feasible. It can be done. It has been done before and will be done again in the future.And the good news  is that it can be done in a relatively short period of time.
Rebranding Greece  is a calculated and programmed effort such as any other project, with baby steps and timeframes, which has as a purpose to change the image people have for our country from negative to positive. Branding refers to people and in order for us to affect their  opinion they should  form a new positive one which will suppress the old one back to the subconscious.

A trick was used by Mr. Economides to help us understand how opinions exist in our subconscious and how easy it is to drag them out of their. He asked the group in the room to participate by naming  top known brand to the products he was about to refer to.
        He said computers and everyone answered Apple.
        He said athletic shoes and everyone answered Nike's
        He said fast food everyone answered Mac Donald's
         Finally, he said mother of Europe and everyone realized it was Greece...

How simple!!!

That made me realized that, If there  is one good thing to remember about Greece there is also more than that. All we have to do is find the way to get to those truths and then communicate them the others. No one  said it is an easy task.  Like Mr. Economides said, it is simple, not easy. To get to that pure plain clean idea that applies to everyone as a mathematical equation, is hard.  For example Coca Cola has never changed its logo as a brand,  ever. The same with Apple computers. On the other side, Greece 's logo has changed 9 times in the past few years and right now it is one that people cannot identify with since they simply do not understand it and it means nothing to them. It has the name Greece in Greek and around it 9 circles symbolizing the 9 different areas EOT operates. Where EOT is  the Greek organization responsible for matters of tourism. As noted by Mr. Economides it is obvious that that you cannot go branding Greece with such a logo because if Greeks do not understand it, imagine tourists....

" Rebranding Greece"
" Rebranding Greece " made me realized we have a choice.
A choice to believe we are loosers and do nothing about it.. Or, find ways to get out of this black hole we managed to put ourselves into.The tools are around us. All we have to do is search for them, get them, use them.
It is our choice.
 It is the way we see ourselves  the way others see us.
And if this way is bad, we can change it to good.
It is our choice.
It has always been.

Despina Mahera

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