Tallinn – personal branding, for countries?

To Tallinn last week to present for British Council, Loov Esti (Creative Estonia) and UKTI – and also meet some start ups.

I was talking on experiences and models of international development for creative & digital businesses, and also reflecting back some comments of Estonian companies who had opened satellites in UK.

A theme throughout the trip was of a kind of personal branding for countries – what generalizations do others make about British or Estonian expertise or strengths? Tallinn is increasingly seen as a hot bed of interesting digital activity, and cited as one of the top 10 cities in Europe by Wired, and we discussed at length why that was and how it is recognised internationally – a comment on a tradition of crafts and “making” and a motivation derived from a turbulent recent history resonated particularly.

The UK is always perceived as having excellence in creative design and a kind of unorthodox innovation, what was the Estonian equivalent? Many of these businesses were looking at disruptive software platforms (with Skype as the local role model), but an ongoing conversation I think.

Two comments to which I had no good answer: the British don’t actually lie, they are just being polite in not saying what they think; and, all UK TV ads have talking animals in them – why?

Lastly, an idea worth copying – the Garage 48 Hub is a rough and ready incubation space with a very energetic communal buzz. I spoke as part of Failure Week on my Web1.0 experience and Sandbox (“making space to fail”), where guests come in and talk about what went wrong and what they learned.

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