You may have heard it already – the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that in all international communication and correspondence ‘Türkiye’ must be used instead of the previously employed English spelling version, ‘Turkey’.

For our Turkish neighbours little is going to change as after all in the Turkish language, Türkiye had always been the correct wording. For us expatriates however it may take a little while longer getting used to it and that includes installing the right keyboard on our electronic devices.

Granted – few of us are engaging in correspondence with local or national authorities on a daily basis but it is a matter of courtesy so why not start referring to our fantastic new home the same way everyone else does?

Many of our readers may ask themselves why the swap in letters occurred in the first place; hence today’s column tries to shed some light on exactly that issue. Let us approach the topic from two different angles.

First, Turkey as we as international community most definitely appreciate is a proud and successful nation. Our local friends display this state of satisfaction with the country they live in on various occasions. We only have to think about the way the Turkish flag is used in public as a symbol to demonstrate this ever more clearly. Another good example is the affection of Turkish athletes with their nation – representing Türkiye as part of a national sports team delegation or during an international tournament is probably the absolute highlight of a career. And you show it and let others share your joy, and with pride!

Thus said it does not come as a surprise when now the local linguistic version is going to be used in international communications and especially trade, too. Which brings me to the second dimension as hinted above.

Soon, ‘Made in Türkiye’ will be displayed on all products manufactured over here and aimed at export markets. These three words will thus not simply travel the world but will become the hallmark of Turkish quality.

And now we enter the wider picture so to speak. Efforts are underway to establish Türkiye as a brand. Yes, you have read correctly. But can a country be marketed similar to a high-end good? Many analysts say, yes, of course. You only have to factor in a number of different perspectives. Let us consider a car manufactured in a particular country. As long as the quality is perfect it automatically becomes a symbol of the manufacturing standards of that very country. Hence, ‘made in…’ and if paired with top end quality does the trick. A nation state is no car – so the marketing, the branding of that nation state needs much more diversity. We would talk about a country’s history and culture, the music and food, the language and family traditions. The entire social fabric of that state has to be considered when putting ‘the package’ together. Successful trade relations are thus a vital but not the only aspect of Türkiye, the brand.

Still on the second angle, there is perception management. If you now pause a moment and think about for example Germany, then France, then England;whilst many of our esteemed readers will have their personal preferences and might reply with this or that reflection, a fair amount of comments and thoughts would focus on identical topics. Hence and what a branding expert has to understand is that an international audience may or may not have the right impression of what actually constitutes a certain country as some perceptions are outdated or outright wrong. You then add or delete and in the end the marketing mix is ready.

All this will take quite some time to be fully implemented. But it is a welcome departure from the past when the country was basically perceived as a mass tourism hotspot. Of course – tourism was and will be a major income factor for generations to come but even related to this subject the branding undertakings may reconsider and substitute the term ‘mass’ with the words ‘affordable quality’. Türkiye has turned herself into a splendid holiday destination open all year round – the image of sandy beaches is still perfectly alright but there is winter tourism, cultural tourism, youth and student tourism, health tourism, events and conference tourism and all of this in all four corners of the lands.

This brief introduction can not replace a longer essay about this important topic; it was meant to be a short overview and trying to figure out why the name change, and why now. Which allows me to present an afterthought – timing is crucial in any branding exercise and there can be no better point in time as now. In 2023 Türkiye celebrates her Centenary, and we are going to be part of yearlong activities and many major festivities. Linking the branding efforts with that so relevant date makes good sense as global interest in the country will most certainly rise even more.

May I wish you a happy February and lots of fun in and about town.

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