The concept of re-branding Israel is a good idea and good ideas are worth implementing. This idea started when the government hired branding experts to deal with how Israel looks in the eyes of the world. The solution was simply “let’s make them look at the good things in Israel and not the bad things”.
The idea failed, but not because it was bad. Implementing it failed.
Here is why:
A. Context. Context is the God and the devil of all things. Context will decide whether something is a success or a failure. When we play in the context of delegitimization, it’s basically a box we’re stuck in. Even if we try to think out of the box we basically can’t. Israel will always fail when the context is against it.
I wrote about the context issue in my post about the creation of a pro Israel calendar and suggested that as long as Israel and pro Israeli ambassadors- organizations and individuals keep responding to anti-Israel events and delegitimization concepts (the anti Israel context) there can be no re-branding of Israel.
B. Centralization. Governments are used to a system where they control the agenda. But today, for better or worse, everything moves so quickly – largely as a result of the mobile and the web, instant responses are required and large institutions such as governments have great difficulty accomplishing this. Therefore, a new approach is needed. The right thing to do is to let go. It’s better for Israel to outsource this job to all its committed agents in Israel and abroad and instead of controlling/managing them, just empower them to do what they are passionate about.
C. Top down thinking. Even if there was a re-branding process in motion, it didn’t reach the general public, not enough people knew about it, it didn’t reach the target, not in Israel, not in the world. It stayed “inside the industry”. Maybe there wasn’t enough money spent on marketing the idea, but if I can suggest a more 2.0 point of view to this- there weren’t enough people committed to the process, people who will plant the seeds in different communities and countries and make them bloom. In other words, no viral effect was set to kick-start, and you all know that in the center of every success there’s a rigorous plan.
D. Subprime. Organizations don’t necessarily speak or communicate with one another in order to co-operate for the greater cause. They fear for their budget, a budget that comes from donors. The more events and email addresses you get, the more you’re worth, that’s the basic logic. It’s simple but nasty. It makes organizations compete with one another where they should work together.It’s our Subprime, It works (to a point) but it’s taking us straight down, it’s a curse.
E. Communication. Even though Israel is using social media (MFA holds more than 100 Facebook pages and some more social utilities in the social web), the government doesn’t get the 2.0 idea (fast enough) or the 2.0 way of making things. In the beginning of it everyone thought that getting high amounts of likes is the game, but as we grew up we realized it’s not about the number (old 1.0 way), it’s about the engagement (2.0 way)- making people engage with you and engage for you with their friends, making them your ambassadors online.
Read about the solution: crowd sourcing of public diplomacy