When we were finishing the, I Feel Slovenija branding concept and business model idea together with Petra Lapajne, Maja Konečnik, and Leslie de Chernatony; I supposed that it was not going to be hard to gain approval from a client (government of Slovenija) and approval from the internal and external market, but to establish a sustainable management system to run the brand alive.
My predictions were correct regarding the approval of the Government of Slovenia (I Feel Slovenia was ruled as an official Slovenian national brand, and more than 100 pages of brand-based business model were accepted on a governmental level. In the coming years, it was also recognized by international branding professionals, especially by various global tourist boards. This later recognition was the least unexpected since Slovenian tourism bloomed in the last ten years, primary thanks to activated mostly boutique-minded small private-based potentials and Slovenian Tourist Board activities. However, the brand united the view of our core competencies. I should have expected criticism from Slovenian marketing professionals, and I did not mind much about it since I cannot avoid taking routes that are not politically correct, whatever I do.
What can be concluded after almost 15 years of its existence, I Feel Slovenia is still holding its pace in tourism while the rest of its potential is still unleashed. With only a few outside the tourism sector understanding the role of branding and maintaining a business model tight, it is no surprise that the value is kept safe and rotting in the vault. Politics and branding are on opposing sides. While branding strives to eliminate everything that is not fully compatible, politics seeks to please everyone and is afraid to select and decide.
But I would not be who I am would I not also offer a slightly more conceptual and theoretical view of the I Feel Slovenia brand. The following are statements written in 2018, updated somewhat today.
As proved by the “life formula” F’in’g = ν x (ts), the complex human system has two gravity black holes: one that freezes or loses control over frequency/quantity and another that freezes or fails control over frequency/quantity and another that freezes or loses control over time-space.
In brand systems, ν can be understood as the number and frequency of brand particles. Brand particles are, in fact, the minor components of any brand, represented in brand management systems as elements of the brand formula, elements of the brand story, mental concepts, or memes. If a brand is composed of too few memes, we say that such a brand is frozen. An even better analogy would be a nuclear chain reaction. Too few colliding atoms or particles produce a nuclear reaction, but only the quantity above a certain threshold sustains it. Few brand memes suffice for a brand to exist in a particular moment, but only the interplay of a sufficiently large quantity of interactive memes makes such a brand sustainable.
On the other hand, if there are too many (unrelated) memes in brand identity, then the life force of the brand (F’in’g) is not strong enough to keep the brand together. Such a brand disintegrates into chaos.
To get F’in’g for a brand, ν should be multiplied by (ts). (It might be multiplied by (ts)², but this is unimportant for this argument.) It is trivial to understand brands to exist in time-space. This tells us that the brand’s integrity over time-space follows the rule of entropy. If nothing, no energy is added as F in ‘g. If F is large enough, (ts) expands. If F is low, then (ts) shrinks.
Two years after the brand was established (accepted by Slovenian Government), I was sure we would not be confronted with severe changes in the (ts) part of the formula. And I was right. Not much was going on there. But I was wrong in being afraid that ν number would be too high to keep the brand alive without additional energy. Fortunately, I was wrong! I Feel Slovenia brand ν number was reduced to one: “green.” All the rest was forgotten. At that time, I was hurt, for I knew that this brand’s sustainability and beauty lie in its memetic richness. I did not realize then that brand, as a living creature, adapted itself to the lack of energy needed to sustain (counteract entropy) the whole structure of memes. Brand hibernated then like a bear in the winter, hoping spring would arrive with all the food needed for life and reproduction.
And the spring came indeed. It did not come as a revolutionary change overnight. Still, after more than ten years after the brand was delivered, I Feel Slovenia seems to rely on large enough and diverse enough sources that add enough energy to sustain its further replication. As a necessary (evolutionary) consequence, stakeholders are attached to more than one top meme, green. From Green, Active, Healthy memes that have been defining the brand on the highest level for the last three years, this year Slovenian Tourist Board campaign promotes “My Way” as a metaphor for the subject of “I Feel.” Customers that share it (replicate it) on their account provide additional food for I Feel Slovenia, thus providing new energy free of charge for the brand owner. Different Slovenian stakeholders are starting to explore co-branding potentials, including various commercial entities, that will bring additional F and inevitably enhance and enrich the ν number.
In 2023 I could not have been prouder on Slovenian Tourist Board. The new position of Slovenian tourism, »My Way of Tasting Love, «is 100% brand compliant, avoids childishly falling into traps of »feel« and »love«, links it to the recently developed high-profile Slovenian culinary and enhances the crucial power of this brand, that it asks a customer to be involved, ta take His Way!
On the other hand, the rest of Slovenia failed to grab an opportunity. A couple of years ago, two or three individuals within the Government were pushing hard against the complacency of the rest; only one is still there. There were some signs of hope, as I wrote back in 2018. It takes much more structure for the national brand of Slovenia than for tourism only. With one person in charge, what can you expect?