The Business of Bilateral Branding

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change book series (PSCSC)


Global development intervention is intended to benefit donor and recipient communities through strategic and constructive social change. Recipient communities expect to improve social and political conditions, while donor communities expect to be recognized and appreciated for their resource allocation. Donors promote their interests through branding their interventions in ways that are designed to attract public attention. Bilateral donors engage in nation branding as an exercise in soft power. I situate bilateral branding as a product of development intervention through a targeted analysis of dominant bilateral agencies’ use of logos associated with their national agencies or aid programs. The author explores the connection between development branding and business approaches, resonant with an emerging privatization in the field, considering the consequences to engaging effective and ethical development programs. Although national branding campaigns are designed to promote positive images, these communication strategies may encompass multiple goals, from raising legitimacy and encouraging financial support among donor citizens, toward inspiring appreciation from those in recipient communities. But beyond these more explicit goals, we need to consider the potential consequences of these branding strategies to donor–recipient relationships, given the structuring of business approaches engaged.


Bilateral Branding USUnited States (US) USAIDUnited States Agency UK United Kingdom socialSocial Change 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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