The Platform


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently ordered a rebrand to promote Turkey’s ethnic and cultural standing abroad. For some though, will changing Turkey’s official name to Türkiye paper over some of the country’s problems?

The country’s leadership, namely Erdogan, was apparently dissatisfied with Google search results. Some of these search results for Türkiye came back with turkey, a bird popular around Christmas and Thanksgiving. The government has also objected to the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of turkey as “something that fails badly” or a “stupid or silly person.”

The country’s rebranding started in late 2021, amid increasing inflation and a growing economic crisis when Erdogan issued a memorandum requesting that the name Türkiye be used by other countries.

Erdogan also ordered that export products be labeled “Made in Türkiye,” and that state agencies use the appellation in official documents. Furthermore, Erdogan said that the word Türkiye better represents and expresses the Turkish people’s culture, civilization, and values.

In January, the nation launched a tourism campaign titled “Hello Türkiye,” which included a video of travelers saying the slogan from various locations across the country. The campaign’s purpose, according to TRT World, is to declare and promote worldwide awareness about using the country’s original name. Following a request from Ankara, Türkiye was substituted at the United Nations.

What has contributed as a driver behind the rebrand? First, the Turkish leadership is acutely aware of its strategic position in regional affairs. Turkey is also aware of its somewhat tarnished global brand so any chance to make some positive PR is a good thing.

What benefits can Türkiye achieve from a rebrand? A successful rebranding will potentially attract foreign direct investment. Several characteristics of a country’s brand matters when determining whether to invest in it, including how transparent the country is, how simple it is to conduct business there, and how much the country’s economy is expanding. Other economic aspects are inextricably linked to a country’s brand.

A successful rebrand may positively impact its GDP and economic development. Establishing and enhancing a country’s worldwide image is an essential component of managing a country, much as developing and sustaining a strong positive corporate brand is an important part of managing a business. Brands are everywhere, yet the world’s biggest brands are nations. A strong national brand may lead to significant prosperity for its country’s inhabitants and future generations.

For Erdogan, it is hoped that rebranding may broaden the country’s cultural ties. Tourism and sports are two tremendously profitable sectors and draw in a significant number of visitors. In 2018 alone, tourism accounted for nearly 8% of total employment and contributed 3.8% to the country’s GDP. In 2017, tourism generated nearly $8 billion in revenue.

Despite efforts to distract us with a rebrand, the government continues to face criticism about media freedom, human rights violations, and its handling of the Kurdish issue. Most experts would give Türkiye low scores for media freedom and human rights.

As Albert Einstein once said, there is an opportunity behind every crisis. Although the country suffers from staggering high inflation, food shortages, and an energy crisis, it sees the rebrand as an effort to look forward not backward.

S.M. Saifee Islam is a Research Analyst at the Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.