Perception is the first clue we get on a country brand. It makes us shape in our minds what that place must be. Unconsciously we have our first opinion on it, and it will be backed or modified by other information we will receive, be in a way or another, about the place.
This is the reason of thinking of some places and their people through stereotypes. We once got some information, processed it in any way, and no other has come to change it. Stereotypes are not always bad news for a country. They can even help when reality has become so bad appearing that keeping people minds in pre-conceived concepts can make us gain time to recover a competitive identity (a branding definition by Simon Anholt).
Although today´s media absolute coverage and 2.0 channels echo constantly launching what happens wherever, there are places enjoying the benefits of what they are supposed to be. We can clearly see that many places have two main different concepts set in Public Opinion mind. Even three, as the singular case of Spain has. And, although complex reflections, it is checkable in such simple way as one´s own mind. If we asked people around the world about the image they have of Spain, we would probably get three different answers: the stereotyped one, represented by words as matador and flamenco; the admired one, talking about the political and economic impressive change Spain enjoyed and a last one, remarking the deep economic and social crisis she is in.
At this point, surely would feel a lot alleviated being said to be a land of matadors, flamenco and fiesta. No deeper thoughts to damage, by instance, her so needed touristic flows. Spain has always complaint for being considered a mere services country. Her people made a tremendous effort for years to balance that with a stronger industrial sector that attracted direct foreign investments, among other targets. Today, without surfing in the Spanish economic and social reality, we can end that the identity of Spain has kept its competitiveness in a certain sense. Let´s make a simple mental exercise: Have you recently thought of spending your holidays in Greece? Have you thought to do it in Spain? What a brand means is also what it provokes. And right now, I am sure Spanish do not mind at all being named as the land of bullfighting, flamenco or fiestas. The thing is a solid conviction that makes tourists come and come back to Spain every year in a number today surpassing 54 million. This side of Spanish brand has not been damaged, as it keeps ranking at the top of world touristic destinies.