Why the tagline “Endless Possibilities” doesn’t matter

Those responsible for developing the Malaysia Nation Brand have come in for a lot of flack since the announcement by the Prime Minister that ‘Endless Possibilities’ was the new Nation Brand tagline.

And then, after several days of negative comments, respected news portal the mole reported last Thursday that the official launch of the tagline may be scrapped or at least delayed.

Frankly I’m stunned to hear there may be a U turn on this project almost before it has begun because the tagline has a minor role to play in the context of nation branding and what it is doesn’t really matter.

Because whatever tagline is chosen will have very little impact on the success or failure of the Nation Brand project and furthermore, it will be forgotten sooner rather than later.

Does anyone remember “Indonesia: Admit It You Love It”? Or for that matter the globally ridiculed and grammatically incorrect “Celebrating 100 years of Nation’s awakening.” Of course you don’t yet Southeast Asia’s largest economy has achieved growth of more than 6% in four of the last five years. That’s four of the last 5 years since 2008 when the world went into economic meltdown. Remarkably, in April – June 2013 the country attracted US$6.5 billion of FDI, up 19% over the same period last year.

Tourist arrivals to Indonesia have also shown significant growth and in the first half of 2013, the number of foreign visitors was up 7.18% to 4.15 million from 3.87 million in the same period in 2012.

Some time ago Germany, normally the poster boy of well thought out strategic initiatives came out with the bland, pointless and rather unlikely “Germany, affordable Hospitality.” Nevertheless, the country is the rose amongst thorns of European economies.

Some of the best and iconic country taglines are those that evoke a sense of the place they describe such as “New Zealand 100% Pure”, “Switzerland Get Natural” or “Montenegro Wild Beauty.”

And who can forget ‘cool Britannia’ introduced by the British Labour party in the late 1990s and created to communicate Britain as a vibrant, trendy and cool country. There was a similar backlash to the one in Malaysia and the UK tourism authority disagreed with it so much they went off on their own and created “UK OK” as a tagline. I doubt anyone reading this remembers either tagline but it hasn’t stopped the UK becoming the leading European destination for foreign direct investment, securing 1,559 investment projects that created 170,000 jobs. In fact, while global FDI inflows declined by 18%, FDI inflows into the UK rose by 22%

As Malaysia has discovered, finding a superlative that hasn’t been used is not an easy task but choosing one that has been used doesn’t mean it can’t be used again.

In fact, one could argue that the very fact that so many countries and companies have used “Endless Possibilities” could be considered proof that in fact the opposite is true and that this is a good tagline.

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3 thoughts on “Why the tagline “Endless Possibilities” doesn’t matter

  1. Can I suggest that dust off the slides and give them a very simple presentation in nation branding 101? Then after a cuppa, follow that with 10 reasons you do not announce a slogan and then try to backfill it with an ad campaign to turn it into a brand.

  2. I belive that taglines for nations, just as for any other commercial good, also need to reflect the true nature of what one “sells”. Endless Possibilities is simply not credible It a bold and ambitious statment, which can never be fulfilled.

    Just look at certain sectors: can you simply go and start a transportation business? No, you need a licence. Could you come here as a foreigner and set up a company with little or no capital? Again, no. You only need 2 RM in Hong Kong to do so, but in Malaysia you need to have an amazing amount of paid up capital.

    So, unless a nation can come up with a credible and true tagline: skip it.
    (Germany Affordable Hospitality also gets a facepalm from me, a German. 200 Euro a night for a hotel room during an exhibition is hardly affordable…)

  3. Hi Stefan, good points well made. There is no harm in not having a tagline but if you do want one, it must be believable and most important of all, you can’t retrofit a brand around a tagline.

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