Maxim Behar for Manager Magazine: Bulgaria Should Become “The European Paradise’’ for Foreign InvestorsApril, 2021
The PR expert Maxim Behar shares his ideas for the development of Bulgaria and highlights the importance of building the country's brand image, its positioning among the world's economic elite and the need of foreign investors.
Ministry of Branding in Bulgaria… Why not?
Building a country’s brand image is quite a long process and the accumulation of positive news, stories and opinions should be extremely powerful to overshadow the distressing events. All of this with the crucial demand to be done daily.
In all the commotion around the pandemic, the vaccines, the lock-down and the politics played out on the streets during the protests downtown of the capital Sofia, we undoubtedly forgot the importance of positioning Bulgaria as a captivating country with divine young, educated and ready to conquer the world people who can make any foreign investor satisfied. Bulgaria is a marvellous European country but is torn by social contradictions and the political ambitions of the Balkan region and the mediocre people in it. However, Bulgaria is also a country that is unquestionably making progress regarding its contradictory post-communist development. In my professional background, the immediate association of the term ‘’branding’’ is consistently related to the advertising field. Nevertheless, not everything can fall into this category, especially when it comes to a long-term project that requires decades of development.
The current practice emphatically shows that over the last 20 years the image of our country was based on two uncertain and quite fragile pillars – TV advertising campaigns and the so called ‘’road shows’’. However, it was all done halfway – a dubious advertising agency launches a campaign just for the profit, slightly interested ministers doing nothing, who have just learned how to change the slides of a presentation or how to speak in English legibly without sounding extremely unprofessional. And then the whole campaign ends.
Both businesses and the Government play in the same team – the team of Bulgaria. As in every sports team, we should all know where it is better to position ourselves. The business is always under attack as it must score goals, and the Government plays in its defence and keeps the chances of the business to continue scoring goals. This is undoubtedly a basic law in the Government-business relationship, especially when it comes to investments and state profits. According to Company Guru, the number of registered foreign companies in the territory of Bulgaria this year has dropped to the point where it is 16 times less than it was in 2017.
Therefore, I believe that it is time for the business and the Government to join forces and build-up a long-term pragmatic and concrete strategy on how to set Bulgaria on a higher level in the world ranking for must-see locations, proper places to do business and to live in.
In the short term a few simple things can be done after the state’s elections to achieve that goal.
Ministry of Branding
There is nothing atypical or extravagant in this proposition. We need a good Minister with a professional team and an office with a conference room somewhere in Sofia and that is all. This carefully chosen Minister with a broad vision should only be a generator and coordinator of meetings and discussions of people from the state who are even more qualified in this field than him. If we compare this proposal with the extravagant Nepalese Minister of Happiness, our future Minister of Branding will undoubtedly be the improved version of him. Therefore, if he does his job well, happiness will be achieved. In addition, this news alone will put Bulgaria on the front pages of the world media.
Association for positioning Bulgaria in the forefront of the world economic elite.
We need such well-functioning association, which deals only with the positioning of our state among the best world players, in which business organizations, the Government, the communication associations and the universities can meet. A few years ago, a similar organization was created and went by the name ‘’Bulgarian image’’. However, it wasn’t supported and therefore could not survive long enough. But we should step on this basis and create a new organization that holds online meetings every month and reports its activities to the Prime Minister personally, whoever he might be. Still, one third of its members, as well as the management of the association, must be Bulgarians studying or working abroad that are well qualified in this matter.
Foreign Investors in Bulgaria
They also must have their own well-functioning organization that not only supplies, but also funds various events that showcase the success of their projects and even the difficulties that accompany them. Thus, they will help the Government to make Bulgaria even more appealing. What needs to be desolated is the country’s administration, since it terminates the efficient investments. Bulgaria has the chance to become the ‘’European paradise’’ for investors and we should work towards achieving this goal. Why? Simply because, excluding bureaucracy, for many years now we have the lowest taxes in Europe and almost no requirements for registration of a company with the symbolic share capital of 1 Euro.
Working towards the branding of Bulgaria is absolutely the most important obligation of any government from now on. This ‘’necessary operation’’ is not just a matter of promoting our seaside or mountain resorts as a must-see locations. It is a matter of a great positioning of the most essential brand – the Bulgarian brand.
On the one hand, this will make our state recognizable worldwide, and on the other hand, will save the local tourism before it hits rock bottom. Our goal must be bringing investors, tourists, and people from all over the world to Bulgaria, where they can enjoy the true magic live. Before all else, let us tell them where the magic happens.