Professor Bálint Nagy on the connection of country image and logo
Professor Bálint Nagy participated in a discussion about the so called country image that the Hungarian Tourist Office published spring 2018. The forum was organized by art historians Katalin Bakos and Eszter Szönyeg-Szegvári around the questions: Is it possible at all to create an effective country logo? How can the call for the competition – in its aims, formulation, wording – contribute to receiving successful applications? To walk around these questions, marketing professionals, graphic artists, art historians were invited to approach these issues from different angels.
Professor Nagy’s talk was based on his own professional experiences. Since the political transition in 1989, he participated in three different boards responsible to create a country image concept. To create an effective national logo has always been difficult, and almost always was deemed to failure, he argued, independent of any political issues or political regimes. The reason can be grasped in the difference between promoting a service and promoting a product, a material reality. The country, in this case, stands for a service, a touristic service. To create a visual symbol for a service, a country image is a much more complex job than to do so for a material product. In the case of a country, it is not something constant that one needs to symbolize with a logo. Countries are changing, as countries are created by the people who live there, the people are changing, the economic context is always changing, the country is not a tangible product that can be kept and taken from a shelf. We cannot say, this is how the country looks now, it looked like this two years ago and will look like ten years from now, however, the visual symbol of a country should be created for long term. To find a symbol that represents a country or an event, no matter how funny, cool it is or how much a jury likes it, is not enough if it simply does not include a content, a message a country stands for. We should accept that this is a long process that should be revised time after time. The logo of a country is connected to deeper cultural meanings. It is not only a touristic marketing device but also a representation of the self-image, the identity of a country.