It may not seem like a brand issue, but the cracks opening up in the European Union is just that: A brand issue.

Take today’s news that Ireland is accepting a bailout from the EU. As when Greece accepted a previous bailout, some of the other EU countries – notably, Germany – have rumbled that maybe they shouldn’t be punished for the poor management of others.

Putting aside the politics and economic concerns to such a bailout, the cracks can be filled up with brand.


Here’s how: Right now, Europeans still see themselves as belonging to a nation. They do not speak of themselves as Europeans, but as Germans or Italians or Austrians, for example. During this growth process, they still see themselves as belonging to individual national brands.

However, if Europeans saw themselves as Europeans, then the Irish economic pain would be felt throughout Europe as though it was happening to them. That’s a brand, and it has a power to unite disparate audiences.

To bring this home, we recently worked with a global company that was very fractured. Silos existed everywhere, and there was a sense that each component of the company operated independently of the rest. Because of that, opportunities were missed and it failed to have a meaningful impact on the market as a whole. Preference was not created.

However, once it has a unifying brand, the pieces of the company became one. They shared one goal – the brand promise – and it is becoming a single, powerful force in its market.

That’s the power of brand, and it can even affect companies – and countries – internally. It has the power to unite. When we say brand is more than just a marketing exercise, we mean it. Its purposes are more important than just that.