New branding tool to boost international profile of Flemish businesses


Flanders’ agency for promoting exports has launched a ‘branding tool’ that sectors can use to communicate their strengths and advantages clearly and powerfully

All together now

Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit) has launched a “branding toolkit” to helps companies and sector organisations put aside the typical Flemish reserved demeanour in their international promotions. Apart from boosting export, the toolkit should also help to attract potential investors to Flanders, by highlighting the unique strengths of five local economic areas.

Along with Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois and European commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström, Fit – responsible for promoting export and attracting foreign investment – presented the digital toolkit earlier this month at the Flanders International Economic Summit. The toolkit was partly financed by the European Commission’s European Regional Development Fund.

The multi-media toolkit offers an overview of the main assets of five economic areas: Life Sciences & Health, Food, Solution Driven Engineering & Technology, Smart Logistics and Sustainable resources and Materials & Chemistry.

‘Too modest’

The choice for those areas is linked to Flanders’ general international promotion plan, Vlaanderen Versnelt (Flanders Accelerates). “These are economic sectors in which Flanders already excels, but there is still much room for improvement concerning their global prominence,” says Vlaanderen Versnelt project manager Sam Abosi.

Although Flanders' reputation abroad is good, he says, “we need to find ways to exploit our assets and potential even further. Flemish people are too modest and prudent when they sell themselves, their region and their products. Our ambition is to be top of mind in international trade, not second or third.”

The tools highlight the unique co-operation between biotech and nanotech in the Flemish life sciences sector and the pioneering initiatives in the niche markets of the engineering and tech industry. The tools were developed through a series of workshops involving the different stakeholders – such as companies, sector federations, government organisations and strategic research centres –  to ensure that all points of view were included.

It should help all stakeholders to speak with one voice, to generate maximum impact

- Sam Abosi of Fit

“It should help all stakeholders to speak with one voice, to generate maximum impact,” explains Abosi. “It will also give more credibility to individual companies, which is of great significance for enterprises active in niche markets and in countries where the link between the government and business is very strong.”

The branding toolkit can also simply provide essential background info, as the region of Flanders is not always well known abroad, and save enterprises and sector organisations much time and money in developing and implementing their marketing strategy. The materials can, for example, enhance the impact of speeches, presentations and trade fair stands through their stylish visuals and clear communication.

This is the first in a three-part series on Fit's branding tool. See links below for parts 2 and 3