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Leithal Thinking Brand & Marketing Consultancy

Scotland’s international reputation

  • Scottish Government

Scotland’s international reputation

A microsite that brought Burns Night and Robert Burns to life.

Marketing any organisation can be challenging. Marketing a large multifarious one can be notoriously so. But marketing a nation of 79,000 km² and 5 million individuals – well, that’s
a whole new category of challenge.

Since 1995, Leithal Thinking has been working with the Scottish Government to position Scotland internationally as an attractive and competitive place to visit, invest and do business, study, live and work.

Nation Branding has been the source of much buzz and a more than a little hot air in the last decade with books, conferences and gurus in abundance. Whilst lots of this output focuses on why managing and measuring a country’s reputation is important, (which is undoubtedly interesting – Google Simon Anholt if you’re interested and new to the topic), precious little of this intellectual output seems to get to the nub of what managing a country’s reputation actually looks like on a practical, day-to-day basis, and how on earth one can bring together the individual agendas of different powerful stakeholders.

We have always taken a refreshingly practical approach to the task. Our work is informed by the simple truth that Scotland’s international-facing organisations (e.g. Visit Scotland and Scottish Development International) will speak louder when they speak together.

Scotland’s international reputation

Imagery from the 'We Are Scotland' memory stick.

As such, our work can be divided into four main areas:

Visual identity
Bringing a consistent, contemporary look and feel to Scotland’s International work. This has been based around flexible but distinctive and dramatic use of Scotland’s Saltire flag. Leithal Thinking ran workshops with key stakeholder organisations, encouraging them to think laterally about how to be creative with this, rather than seeing it as a ‘small logo in the corner’ exercise. We have also managed a bespoke photography image bank that can be used by organisations promoting Scotland’s Interests internationally.

Consistent messages
We have worked very closely with stakeholders and the Scottish Government (including at Ministerial level) to agree five long-term headline reputation goals for Scotland which all international-facing work will be asked to contribute to. This required a combination of strong strategic leadership and very sensitive handling.

Capitalising on unique opportunities
Where great opportunities arise to showcase Scotland to the world, we work with ‘Team Scotland’ to devise innovative marketing solutions. For example, in preparation for the Ryder Cup coming to Scotland in 2014, we have created a film showcasing Scotland’s ‘golf story’, featuring world class players, junior golfers, and behind the scenes staff, bringing golf alive across the different dimensions of tourism, business, events, and life in Scotland.

Gathering feedback from the world
Such an unique marketing challenge requires unique analysis and we have worked closely with the Scottish Government and experts such as Simon Anholt (mastermind of the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index) to gain insight into how other countries perceive Scotland’s strengths and weaknesses and how this can be monitored, meaningfully, over time.


  • Brand language
  • Brand guidelines
  • Interactive design
  • Live events
  • Brand communications
  • Brand positioning
  • Brand guardianship