The sexual harassments against women that happened on New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne – and were not adequately stopped by the police present – will damage the “Brand Germany” sustainably. Markus Renner, Co-Owner of Branding-Institute and Co-Chairman of the International Brand & Reputation Community (INBREC), elaborates on this aspect in a guest commentary for the Cologne daily newspaper “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”.
Leading media worldwide like the “New York Times” or the BBC have taken up this issue. In addition, the incidents are discussed in social media. This great attention for the topic will have a negative impact on the Reputation of Germany, which up to now always has been associated with attributes like “efficiency”, “quality”, “cutting edge engineering” and “security”.
The damaged reputation will also affect business. This effect is known as the “Country of Origin” effect: One factor significantly influencing perceptions of brands is the place where they are made or where they come from. If the country of origin has a negative reputation this also affects sales of local business. The effect is above all known from countries like China, India or South Africa suffering from a significantly weaker reputation – as compared to countries like Switzerland, Germany or Japan – because of bad labour conditions, lower product quality or insecurity and crime.
According to Renner, one possible solution is the professional management of the “Brand Germany” by a government organisation like it is done in Switzerland for example.