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October 7, 2008

Baltic state secures expert help to raise its global profile

A branding agency has been appointed by the Lithuanian Development Agency (LDA) to raise the profile of Lithuania globally from both a tourism and business perspective.

UK-based Saffron Brand Consultants has been commissioned to project the county’s image as a thriving Baltic economic hub, and the appointment comes as Lithuania prepares for its capital, Vilnius, to become European Capital of Culture in 2009.

Saffron has growing experience in destination branding, which is increasing in popularity as cities and countries compete to attract consumer and business tourists. Led by Jeremy Hildreth, Saffron’s head of place branding, the agency will team up with the LDA, the body responsible for promoting investment in the largest Baltic state, which has population of 3.4 million.

The aim is to highlight Lithuania’s compelling story of economic success – gross domestic product grew 8.8% in 2007, underlining its status as one of the most exciting and fast-growing economies in Europe.

Earlier this year Lithuania adopted a national brand that is associated with the idea of bravery, and Saffron plans to examine the possibility of translating this theme into the economic and investment spheres.

Saffron has previously worked on branding with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the government of Poland and Visit London, among others. In August this year, it produced the European City Brand Barometer, the first study of its kind to measure the strength of 72 European cities’ brands against the strength of their assets. The report found that the Lithuanian capital Vilnius has latent brand potential.

“The project comes at an exciting time for Lithuania, and as Vilnius gears up to become the European Capital of Culture, the spotlight will turn to this dynamic and far-too-little-known northern European nation,” said Hildreth.

“Lithuania was a sophisticated country that unfortunately got stuck in the Soviet Union for 50 years. It’s really finding its feet, however, and now is an exciting time for us to work with them. Lithuania has a rich history and identity which will gives us the opportunity to create a brand that will help it develop its economic image in a big way.

“This is a country that takes pride in being different, tearing down a Lenin statue in one Vilnius square while raising an effigy of Frank Zappa in another.”

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