Public Diplomacy, Branding and the Image of Nations, Part II: More of the Same, or Different?

One of the defining attributes of being in a centre of global commerce and culture is the feeling you get when walking down the sidewalks.

In London, I found the experience of strolling a few blocks from where I was staying to the downtown campus of UEA London, in large part along the fabled Brick Lane, to be a source of energy and inspiration.

Now back in Ottawa for a month, I find the contrast especially striking. Almost painful. The narrow, crumbling  sidewalks along the anonymous streets in the Canadian capital’s exquisitely excrescent central business district seem to drain any joy or enthusiasm. With each step, you can feel the spirit ebbing.

Whereas London is a great place to be in the midst of, Ottawa is a great place to leave.

Fortunately, that is easily done, and its wonderful environs make the prospect irresistible.

As places, both London and Ottawa have brands. London is a world city and global network node, less an exemplar of things English or British than a vibrant cosmopolitan crossroads that just happens to be the capital of the UK.

Ottawa is a blandly pleasant frontier town and bureaucratic outpost on the fringe of the settled part of the North American continent.

All of which is to say that brands, not least because they exist mainly in the minds of the beholders, have personality and complexion. And on that note, I would like to return to, and weave further a few of the analytical threads comparing branding and public diplomacy (PD) first presented in Chapter 10 of Guerrilla Diplomacy.

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