Your mission is... Latvia

Take note – story published 1 year ago

"Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to raise Latvia's international profile – preferably in a positive way. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds." So might have run a particularly exciting episode of 1960s spy series Mission: Impossible.

Choosing to accept the challenge before everything goes up in smoke is the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) which on June 2 unveiled a new national marketing strategy which it says "aims to achieve a unified positioning of Latvia and create an attractive national image to attract foreign investments".

The core slogan is the word/words "missionLatvia" which we at LSM wish to stress is supposed to be written that way, with a lower-case 'm' and no space in the middle, so please don't blame us or report this as a typographical error.

However, if you choose to do so, we will have a certain amount of sympathy as we freely admit that starting a sentence with a lower-case letter always looks wrong. 'airBaltic' is already a source of regular annoyance, and we look forward to grinding our teeth when the inevitable future collaboration with 'missionLatvia' is announced.

Publicity photos accompanying the announcement, and materials at the launch event render the slogan in the alternative form 'MISSIONLatvia', so presumably that is also acceptable.

Setting aside typographical orthodoxy, LIAA explains:

"missionLatvia [sic], or a country with a mission, is Latvia’s international positioning, through which global associations will be formed, as a country recognising the need for change and acting in the name of a common goal. The missionLatvia strategy also envisions a unified approach to tell the world about Latvia, using unified communication materials. Furthermore, the strategic goal of the national image is to advocate for the values of nature and sustainability, echoing and promoting the development of innovations on a Latvian scale."

According to LIAA, this branding effort will produce some remarkable financial results.

"It is expected that the national image will increase the amount of attracted investments to 2.45 billion euro over the next three years. The positioning of missionLatvia is expected to increase the annual average amount of taxes paid by 150 million euro, promote exports by 300 million and increase investment in research and development by an average of 35 million per year," said LIAA. 

To develop the missionLatvia strategy, a study was conducted in ten target countries, which revealed that Latvia’s "average level of recognition" in Europe is 50%, with the highest level of recognition in Finland at 67% and Sweden at 59%, while in the United States it is slightly lower at 31% and in Asian countries – 20%.

"These results conclude that, in general, Latvia has a high level of recognition, with a tendency for higher levels of recognition as you get closer to Latvia. This study also ascertained foreign knowledge about Latvia, primarily related to location and history, as well as the desire to visit Latvia. Since Latvia is rarely associated with sustainability and innovation, this was chosen as the focus of missionLatvia communication," elaborated LIAA.

So the study confirmed what common sense would tend to suggest: the closer you are to Latvia, the more likely you are to have heard of it and to have some sort of idea where it is and what it's like.

"Image “missionLatvia: A country with a mission” [sic] was created based on Latvian national characteristics, with the fact that Latvians have always had a sense of mission, creativity and enormous work abilities, proving themselves to the world as talented, innovative and tireless people. The mission approach is based on the knowledge that change can begin with one person, idea, or initiative, but it is only possible when people work together to solve problems. missionLatvia tells the story of Latvian values and what they can give to the world. It is the story of every citizen willing to help bring Latvia’s name to the world by addressing important challenges for Latvian society and making a contribution on a European scale," added LIAA.  

A platform and public resource base www.latvia.eu has also been created, which collects stories of experiences and information that will aid in the international promotion of Latvia, LIAA said. Previous national branding efforts have included 'The land that sings', 'Best enjoyed slowly', 'Magnetic Latvia'.

Notoriously, LIAA also launched the slogan 'Ahead of the curve' in mid-2020 when it appeared Latvia was not being hit as hard as many other countries by Covid-19.

"While some countries are still struggling with Covid-19, one country is a success story... Latvia is officially ahead of the curve," promotional videos boasted.

It proved to be a monumental case of misplaced hubris and subsequently backfired in spectacular fashion when Latvia rose to the top of the world's Covid-19 infection charts. Whether or not you like 'missionLatvia' as a slogan, at least it lacks the specficity necessary to lead to a similar goof this time around. 

You might like to check out this promotional video which expands further on the missionLatvia message and says Latvia is "where we have been ignited" and describes the population as "restless in nature, united in mission... join us for action."

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