Three New Year’s Resolutions for Israel
The spirit behind New Year’s resolutions is often reflective, as we look into the mirror, face hard truths, and then make concrete plans to improve. In 2021, it is not only individuals who should be embarking on this process. Countries should do the same.
The past year of COVID-19 has been challenging in many ways for people and national governments alike, but it has also provided us with the opportunity to pause and take stock. With this in mind, Vibe Israel wanted to assess how executives from around the world viewed Israel as a place to do international business.
We commissioned a study from branding agency Bloom Consulting to look at global perceptions of Israel, and assess their trajectory into the future. The study showed some clear areas for improvement, which we suggest Israel should take on as goals for 2021.
Here are three New Year’s resolutions that could help Israel become a better version of itself:
1. Own where we come from.
Israeli businesses and products should proudly declare their Israeliness. A quick search on the websites of the biggest Israeli brands shows, almost universally, no mention of Israel as the country in which they are based.
This has real consequences. Bloom’s study showed that when presented with 30 leading tech brands from around the world, only 16% of respondents correctly identified the well-known brands of Waze, Check Point, and Mobileye as Israeli. In fact, 14% incorrectly identified Waze as British, while 15% thought it was American. In contrast, for every other country, respondents were able to correctly name the top two or three brands.
Some Israeli companies may be cautious because of fears of BDS harming their bottom line. This belief is a mistake, and we should resolve to change it.
Bloom’s research has shown that BDS and anti-Israel boycott efforts are not a prominent concern, as 75% of respondents said they would do business with Israel, and less than 7.4% listed conflicts in the region as a reason they would avoid buying Israeli products. And with warming ties across the Arab world, 2021 is the year Israel should resolve to shed that fear and be proud of our companies’ Israeli roots.
2. Celebrate who we are rather than what we do.
The term “Start-Up Nation” was coined to describe Israel. It turned into an incredibly successful marketing slogan — so successful, in fact, that other nations decided to take it up themselves. Today, there are multiple countries around the world claiming to hold the title of “Start-Up Nation,” and to some, it no longer differentiates Israel in the global eye.
Bloom’s research showed that when asked what Israel does best, global businesspeople said “technology,” but Israeli businesspeople responded “innovation, entrepreneurship, and drive.” The truth is that “technology” is not Israel’s brand promise; it is what Israel does. Israel’s brand promise is the unique Israeli spirit.
For 2021, rather than focusing on the hard technology, Israel should resolve to emphasize the strengths and values of the Israeli people — the purpose-driven attitude, the problem-solving society, and the all-encompassing warmth, even in business situations. This is what really sets Israel apart. And when multiple countries offer similar services, people will choose to do business with people they like.
3. Invest in branding.
The research is clear: establishing an initiative that focuses on managing and implementing Israel’s economic brand strategy will pay dividends in the long run. Bloom recommends that this project be led by the private sector, with buy-in from the government of Israel and Israeli businesses. This will ensure that it is seen as unbiased and can transcend government changes, especially as Israel heads to its fourth election in two years. In 2021, Israel must resolve to recognize the importance of its brand and invest in it accordingly.
If Israel does not take these concrete steps now, the research suggests it could lose its competitive advantage within years. There is no time to waste. The pandemic has challenged smaller countries to be much more competitive for international trade and foreign investment, and others are already ahead in their strategic marketing. 2020, with all its troubles, has provided Israel with a unique opportunity to position itself as the solution provider for the next decade’s global challenges. Let’s make sure we invest the time and resources to let the world know about it. Let’s resolve to start now.
Joanna Landau is the founder and CEO of Vibe Israel, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing Israel’s global reputation.