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Qantas strikes another blow to brand Australia

I was inconvenienced mildly by the grounding of Qantas. Heading to Sydney for a day of workshops on Monday with a client, I was meant to fly down and back from Brisbane.  Inconvenient… yes, painful… no.

I simply booked into similar flights with Virgin and got on with my day on the same route. But on my trip, I was fortunate to sit next to another inconvenienced traveller, an International Director of one of the world’s larger Engineering firms.  A foreigner, visiting Australia for business, making decisions about where to invest, grow and improve their services firm. This gentleman said to me…

“They didn’t just hurt their own brand did they… They took another swipe at Brand Australia.”

At first I curled back in horror and defence of my patriotic Aussie brand, but when you consider the last twelve months, from an international perspective he is very, very right.

The Qantas grounding is another blow to the brand of our previously very stable, secure and reliable nation, known for its lack of sovereign risk, stable investment environment, conservative growth-supporting governments, good sports achievements, sunny weather and great beaches, not to mention our previously faultless flying kangaroo.

In the past twelve months our national brand ‘Brand Australia’ has taken a big beating, politically, financially and emotionally.

The Brand Australia website says

“Australia is … well known for its friendly people, spectacular environment, resources and lifestyle. But this is only part of our story. Contemporary Australia is a confident, creative and outward looking nation, with a strong economy and an abundance of talented people.”

And yet, this Qantas grounding caps off a year in which we have had:

  • a spate of natural disasters and frightening weather across an enormous percentage of our country,
  • a sudden public dumping of our elected Prime Minister,
  • a surprise minerals resources rent tax (MRRT) sprung on our strongest and only thriving industry,
  • a dollar that has moved so erratically foreigners can no longer afford to contemplate visiting our beaches,
  • a hung Parliament,
  • a Carbon Tax that was vehemently opposed by some (and that hits that only surviving industry again),
  • a loss in the Rugby World Cup
  • and now, our national airline, Qantas having to call international grounding to solve their ongoing disputes.

Brand Australia isn’t looking so “friendly” or “outward looking” and we keep trying to take down our “strong economy” from the inside.  Nor is it reflecting the stable, secure, reliable or beautiful values our country has long been known for as we head into 2012.

So, where does Australia’s brand go from here?  Have we lost our mojo?  And what are we going to do to get it back?

At least Sam Stosur and Cadel Evans are keeping our dreams alive.

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Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is Managing Director and Principal Consultant of professional services and growth marketing firm Stretch Marketing, Rebecca and her team provide strategic business development advice, support and implementation to professional service providers and high growth entrepreneurial businesses throughout Australia.

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