The Czech list: how to rebrand an entire country
In exciting news for branding enthusiasts, the entire country of the Czech Republic has decided to rename itself 'Czechia.'
The change to Czechia (pronounced Check-e-uh) is, apparently, being made to make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing. If approved by parliament, the name change will go to the UN for final acceptance.
This isn't the first time the country has undergone a massive change. In 1993, the Czech Republic was formed when Czechoslovakia split in two, meaning the residents would have to accommodate a brand new name and identity yet again - but how do they do it twice?
As a huge change potentially awaits them, the whole country would have to alter everything. That's why - as branding aficionados - we're taking a look at what the Czech people (Czechians?) should be ticking off on their 'how to rebrand our country' Czech-list.
1. What's in a name?
Usually, the biggest noticeable change in a rebrand is the new name. Many people still refer to the Czech Republic as 'Czechoslovakia'. Perhaps a shorter, easier name might jog their memories, but there's also the issue of 'Chechnya', a federal republic of Russia. The Czech republic has previously been forced to clear up cases of confusion between the two - you'd think they'd have learned!
It's important to choose a name that reflects you while speaking to your audience. Don't get weighed down trying to make the name 'mean' everything, or be too literal. Sometimes, a name is just a name. And remember, it's a hard task to force over 10 million people to adopt a new moniker for no real reason, so make sure your rebrand is essential and worth it!
2. Say goodbye to SEO
As anyone knows, the minute you drop your name or title, all the hard work you put in to your Google rankings and SEO goes straight down the pan. What would happen if you searched 'Czech republic'? A graveyard of Google results? Perhaps not, but the thought of starting from scratch is daunting for anyone.
When rebranding, you should anticipate the drop in statistics and online awareness. If the Czech people have thought ahead, they'll have done some underground SEO work to build the foundation for their brand new online presence and remapped a lot of their stuff via Webmaster tools.
Be aware that Google may give you no results when you search your new name. You should prepare for those savvy with SEO to slide in there with Czechia-related web content, meaning they'll shoot straight to the top. Something as simple as a few press releases in different publications can help tug you back up to the top rankings with your new identity.
Deleting all your old social media or online channels and starting afresh means that eventually, your old brand name will fade away while your new one builds that reputation back up.
3. Czech, please!
It's going to be expensive for 'The Czech Republic' to turn into 'Czechia'. Currently, their tourism adverts feature the original country's name and has spent around the equivalent of $42 million US dollars on marketing using this name in its slogan. Ouch. The colossal surge in marketing and advertising for the new name might potentially double or triple that.
When rebranding, it's important not to cut costs. Spending more now will save you so much time and trouble in the future. If you're wincing at the possible price tag, don't underestimate its worth; marketing and advertising done well is a good investment. If you're looking for branding or rebranding work, feel free to get in touch and ask us what we can do for you.
4. Avoid the backlash
Already, Karla Šlechtová, the Czech Minister for Regional Development, has Tweeted about not wanting the new name, adding that the current Czech Republic logo was bought for a billion Czech crowns. Other Czech ministers are pushing for it, seeing the commercial aspect of the name as a good thing.
A lot of brands have picked new names or logos in an attempt to sell more and appeal to customers. Pepsi has edited their logo every few years, to no real avail. In most of these cases, the brand has hastily switched back - Netflix didn't stay as Qwikster for long, and Pizza Hut's two alter egos ('Pasta Hut' and 'The Hut') are doomed to spend eternity in the vault of 'terrible branding ideas'.
We can't overstate the importance of market research. Find out who your competitors are and what they look like in your market. See what's out there before you do something drastic, like choose a terrible name, or a tagline that's already in use.
For Czechia at least, the longer approval process will give residents a chance to get used to the new name.
So, is the rebrand possible?
With our rebranding Czech-list, it'd be a lot easier! But just thinking about the logistics (changing home addresses, new road signs in neighbouring countries, editing the Wikipedia page, to name a few...) throws up a million different problems to face. Having done it once, the country can do it again.
I'd make a quip about giving points to Czech Republic in the annual Eurovision song contest, but it turns out they've never actually made it to the finals - perhaps this rebrand is exactly what they need to crush us all.
Many thanks to Marc (@marcstafford) for all the Czech puns!
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