San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica’s new national brand hopes to attract investment, tourism

Five years in the making, Costa Rica unveiled its new national brand Tuesday afternoon, “Essential Costa Rica.”

The country’s commercial promoters hope that bundling together Costa Rica’s well-established tourism brand with its lesser-known exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities will strengthen the country’s international competiveness.

“There is an enormous synergy between promoting tourism and promoting exports,” said Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González at the event in the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazú, southwest of San José, on Tuesday afternoon.

Presenters said that people had a positive but incomplete image of Costa Rica, boasting that the country’s economy has developed into the most innovative in Latin America since its first forays into international tourism branding in the mid 1990s.

The company FutureBrand designed the brand to embody the attributes of authenticity, value, concentration (of services and biodiversity) and national pride.

The logo’s shades of green draw on Costa Rica’s reputation as a guardian of its natural resources and biodiversity. The font’s bold letters and casual script above are meant to convey Ticos’ friendly, open demeanor but also the strength and stability of its political institutions and democratic tradition.

Tourism Minister Allan Flores said that he believed Costa Rica’s goal to grow sustainable tourism by an annual rate of 5 percent was more realistic now that the country’s commercial sector was united under a common brand.

Since the brand represents Costa Rica to the international community, there will be certain standards businesses must meet before they can use the logo on their marketing materials. INTECO, the National Technical Standards Institute, is already developing guidelines and could start licensing the brand in the next two months.

The branding effort took five years of research and development and cost $650,000, with expenses shared between the Costa Rican Tourism Institute and PROCOMER, the Foreign Trade Corporation of Costa Rica.

While “Essential Costa Rica” aims to attract foreign investment, the new brand will have its work cut out for it. The country has one of the lowest ease of doing business rankings in Latin America, according to the Doing Business 2013 report from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation.

This year, Costa Rica ranked 110 out of 185 countries surveyed for ease of doing business. The Central American country was near the bottom, 169, when it came to “protecting investors.” Costa Rica also scored poorly on “enforcing contracts,” (128) “starting a business,” (128) and “resolving insolvency” (128).

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