Switzerland is Number One!
Yes, congratulations to Switzerland! In this year’s 8th annual Country Brand Index (CBI), Switzerland tops the scoreboard as determined by international opinion formers, business leaders and travel experts. In the CBI report, one can read how Switzerland ranked on all key dimensions and how it compares to other countries. For what it’s worth – here is my view of Switzerland as a brand and one that merits consideration.
If you are fortunate enough to travel to Switzerland on business or leisure, you will immediately be struck by the country’s international nature. Whether arriving in Zurich or Geneva, there are multiple language signs and clear instructions/directions for everything from exchanging money to organizing transport. Almost everyone you will encounter speaks English and those that work in service and hospitality truly view their jobs as careers and are there to help. It is no wonder so many international corporations are headquartered there and have a wide pool of international talent to choose from for employees. Of course, the tax advantages of Switzerland are also a draw for companies and individuals alongside modern infrastructure in telecommunications and transit. The natural beauty of Switzerland cannot be ignored and the Alpine peaks and peaceful valleys with lakes and rivers capture an almost timeless sense of peace. The historic neutrality and independence of a nation, which is a union of many Cantons, demonstrates how democracy works across different languages and cultural identities. Yet, somehow the iconic commonality of being ‘Swiss’ manages to unify a country and provide a strong umbrella sense of identity.
What I really like about Switzerland is how upon arrival in Zurich you get a sense of national pride and humour when you transit on the terminal link train only to be accompanied by the sound of cowbells, yodeling and ‘mooing’ sounds while a Swiss farmer waves a Swiss flag enthusiastically to welcome travellers. Or, when in the duty free (which in both Geneva and Zurich has perhaps the largest selection of chocolates and watches you will find compared to anywhere!) you notice the overt merchandising of red/white and anything with a Swiss cross on it! It says to me that this is a country with a sense of pride that others envy or at least want to purchase or experience!
The efficiency of the Swiss bus and rail network is impressive, especially in accurately providing timetables and connections from Airports to the farthest reaches of the Alpine valleys. Using the SBB on-line timetable and estimated time of journey it even detailed the approximate time required to walk between train platform and bus station (4 minutes approximately) when I had to change modes of transport! Swiss efficiency is also noticeable at the many ski resorts that are managed with efficiency and designed for people wearing Ski boots or carrying Skis and snowboards. Small details in design of conveyor belts built into the slopes, heated floors and coat racks and clean toilet facilities with extra wide doors and shelves are remarkable – even at the top of some of the highest peaks!
To experience Switzerland is to experience a sense of modern efficiency and safety, and from the outside is particularly appealing.
Ok, Switzerland is not cheap and of course to live there is perhaps a different experience. However, Switzerland is a model of political, economic and commercial stability at the heart not only of Europe but also of Global politics and affairs. It is why the United Nations considers Geneva as one of its global bases, it is why Davos is the meeting place of the world’s ‘movers and shakers’ every winter and it is why the concept of ‘Swiss precision’ is so valued in the watch industry and keeps the world ‘on time’.
Country Brands are more than just stereotypes, and FutureBrand has sought to understand the forces that shape how a country’s brand exerts influence and sustains appeal. Congratulations to Switzerland in 2012.Social tagging: Branding > Business > Country Brand Index > country branding > culture > Destination_branding > social