The Slovenia Times

In Slovenia, brands are more than business

I Feel Slovenia, the slogan used to promote Slovenia as a tourist destination.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA
File photo

From Gorenje and Elan to Akrapovič and Dončić, Slovenian brands have long had a strong reputation. Many beloved old brands have fallen into oblivion due to market changes, but new ones are created all the time - and their importance extends beyond business.

"Slovenians were a brand before we became a country," says Dejan Verčič, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana and partner at Herman & Partners, a consulting firm.

"Creating brands was a nation-forming process for us, which is why we have always been proud of our service, product and corporate brands," he said, noting the famous 1980s slogan Slovenia, My Homeland.

The slogan was created as part of an extensive promotional campaign originally designed for the promotion of Slovenian tourism. But the campaign triggered an unexpected emotional response from Slovenians and their aspiration for independence.

The homeland highlighted in the campaign was the land of Alpsko mleko, a popular milk brand featuring the Alps on the packaging, Cockta, a soda drink from herbal extracts, and Elan skis, used by skiing legends in Yugoslavia and abroad.

In this homeland people drank Fructal juices and Radenska sparkling water, ate Gorenjka chocolate, shopped at Mercator, used Gorenje kitchen appliances, got their medicines from Krka and Lek, and travelled with tourist agency Kompas.

"Slovenians are still in love with and are falling in love with new Slovenian brands like Akrapovič, Dewesoft, Dončić, Jezeršek, Lotrič Metrology, Lumar, Lušt, Movia, Zvezda and many others," Verčič said.

Many known Slovenian brands have ended up in foreign or predominantly foreign ownership, but according to Verčič, this is not necessarily bad.

"Brands are born, they live and they die. Those that stayed present in Slovenia are still Slovenian, even if they have foreign owners," he said, adding that instead of regretting the fate of old brands, more attention should be given to ensuring good conditions for new ones.

The slogan Slovenia, My Homeland, has nowadays been replaced by I feel Slovenia, which has been representing the country since 2007. The green colour of the logo has also been adopted by Slovenian sports teams and fans.

It is a well managed slogan that effectively uses the fact that Slovenia is the only country with the word 'love' in its name, said Verčič.

With the rise of social media, brands based on individuals have solidified their position. One such example is Luka Dončić, one of the most successful basketball players in the world.

"He creates and maintains emotions, values and expectations that separate him from other professional basketball players, he has built a personal story and image," Verčič said. "At 23 years he is worth around USD 25 million and the sky is the limit to the growth of his brand in the future," he added.

Brands are one of the key comparative advantages that can create wealth, meaning that economic growth is largely dependent on brand creation, said Verčič.

He believes that Slovenian entrepreneurial mentality is still under the influence of the German engineer mindset, where quality speaks for itself.

"That is not the case. If you are good, you have to know how to show it," he said. "If you are new on the playing field, you have to make more effort than those that were there before you," he added.

Brands are gaining traction in the business-to-business market and trading with countries, said Verčič, who expects a shift in attention towards the self-expressive and emotional components of services, products and organisations.


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