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How does the performance of a national football team impact the external perception of a nation brand? – Part 3

This post is part of a series about “How does the performance of a national football team impact on the external perception of a nation brand?”

The first post, published on Monday 7th June, explained why the World Cup is the most important stage for changing the perception of a nation brand and how I come to the result, the second post was published on Wednesday, 9th of June and focused on how the actual performance of a national football team – winning or losing – impacts on how people perceive the nation brand.

Today the World Cup in 2010 is kicking off and teams will lose in beauty, win in style and others will just win the entire tournament. I am German, believe me, I know what I am talking about. And I know, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.

Let’s have a look on what’s more important in changing the perception of a nation brand – victory or style? Any bets?

Victory or Style – differing degrees of importance

What has the bigger impact on a nation brand – victory or style? Even though an attractive performance may attract more fans and admiration, it’s the winner that remains in the memory. Those who take third or fourth placed will be forgotten. However, whether winning is seen as sufficient depends on the cultural background and football understanding of the observer. In some cultures winning is not enough and teams that played great football but haven’t won a trophy have a stronger recall – for example the Brazilian team of 1982 when compared with the Brazilian team of 1994; the 1982 team consisted of several outstanding creative football players such as Zico, Eder and Socrates but lost in the 2nd round to Italy. 1994 had a winning team, however, they lacked the same flair, but won the World Cup in New York in a penalty shoot out against Italy.

In nations such as Italy, where football is seen as serious business, the overwhelming factor is winning. The Brazil team of 1982 has a high recognition across the entire globe, due to its outstanding, creative and magical football and due to the fact that the majority of players were unbelievably creative performers and stars in their own right even though the 1982 team did not win. But this is the only team that managed to be memorable without winning the trophy. So, if you want to be remembered, and as a consequence change the longer term perception of a nation brand, you need to win.

Have a look at some of the magic of Brazil 1982:

The next post will be published on Monday, 14th of June, when Germany hopefully has won their first match. It’ll focus on the rockstars of football, the individual that influences the way a team plays and their influence on the nation brand as such.

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