Poland Transformed. Spring Into New
It was not long ago that Poland used to conjure up images of countryside, World War II, communism and ‘Solidarnosc’ movement, the Pope, Holocaust, low wage labour, and grey block of flats. Back then it seemed that beautiful women, peaceful democratic transformation and music of Frederic Chopin were the only positive attributes that Poland brand triggered in the minds of around the world. Developing a coherent and comprehensive country brand is of vital importance for transitional countries as branding can contribute to the success of transition. Central and Eastern Europe is a typical transitional region where the evolution of country branding provides valuable insights and experiences.
10 years after joining the European Union, Poland brand is being redefined by media, by millions of visitors who travel to Warsaw, Kraków, Gdansk or Wrocław every year, by foreigners working in the cosmopolitan centre of Warsaw, and finally by Poles who have been working in Western Europe since the accession (some statistics say close to 2 million people left the country to work temporarly in western EU countries).
FAST GROWING ECONOMY
Today Poland is the 6th largest economy in Europe (having surpassed Holland’s GDP), and 25th largest in the world. It is also one of the EU’s fastest growing economy, having avoided recession in the recent years and becoming one of the most attractive investment destinations in Europe. It is a country where young generation widely speaks English, is driven to succeed and take advantage of opportunities that previous generations had never had. It is a place of ‘creative tensions’ between old and new. Everywhere one goes it is easy to spot a striking contrast between what the country used to be and what it is becoming. In downtown Warsaw a ray of modern skyscrapers are contrasting with socrealistic architecture of Palace of Culture and Science, a skyscraper given to Poland by Josef Stalin back in 1950s. That contrast is as striking as the one in between generations, lifestyles, aspirations of young Poles and of the country itself.
In 2012 Poland was co-hosting UEFA 2012 Football Championship. It was an opportunity to showcase to fellow Europeans a modern face of Poland. In the last decade the government built four modern stadiums, sports arenas, new infrastructure including high ways and regional airports. As far as infrastructure is concerned he country is still behind its western neighbour, however there is no doubt that Germany, and old enemy, is a role model and a benchmark for country’s development and progress. After all the highway from Berlin to Warsaw is now completed. Poland was integrated into European highway network all the way from its eastern border.
Poland, once a backward ruined country, is quickly becoming an economic powerhouse in Central Europe. The Poles are strongly pro-European, and even their relationshio with Germans is no longer as tense as it was in the past. Nowhere is the transformation easier to see than in big cities such as Warsaw, Wrocław or Kraków. Poland is a different country today, than what it used to be a decade ago. It is a country worth exploring, with optimistic outlook for the near future that celebrates 25th anniversary of transformation from communism and dependency to Moscow. One of the most impressive is Poland’s rise as a political and economic heavyweight in Europe. This year’s triple anniversary – 25 years of democracy, 15 years of NATO membership, and ten years of European Union membership – is a source of pride for the Polish people, and rightly so.
It is understandable that Poland was the spiritus rector of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, which led to EU association agreements with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. No other country has a stronger interest in the successful transformation of the EU’s eastern neighbors, particularly Ukraine.Indeed, during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Poland has taken a firm stand: no one has the right to deny a European country its sovereign decision about its relationship with Europe. The two countries’ historical ties have put Poland in a better position than others to understand the nature of Ukraine’s problems given its turbulent history of relations with Russia.
What is ‘Poland brand’ today? I think the answer is it has not been defined. It is a notion undergoing transformation between old and new, as contrasting as two colour stripes on Poland’s national flag. I believe though that this brand starts to conjure images of dynamic changes and successful economical transformation, modernity, production, export, strong economy, investments, gateway to Europe, growth and a place worth re-discovering. In one of the London newspapers, I came across the term ‘ New Germany’ referring to the same dynamic transformation that West Germany went through between late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed the country is changing, and so is its brand and the images it conjures up among People around the world. This is also reflected in Poland’s new visual identity:
Spring into new. The new logo: Spring Into New was developed by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with late Wally Olins. The motif of a spring was created by Olins, one of the greatest experts on visual identification, country and city branding. Its concept is based on the idea of “Creative Tension” that was coined in 2004. The anniversary of 25 years of freedom is the best possible moment to launch a consistent nation brand promotion campaign.