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Call me crazy, but can a corporate brand become a country?

It might sound like a far fetched idea, or somehow impossible or even of no value whatsoever, but lets explore this theory further more for the sake of argument.

The idea came to me while I was discussing the future of brands in one of the classes during my masters course. The discussion was about what services or products brands will offer in the future, how would they communicate with their customers and what business models might be applied. But in many cases the single minded objective of corporate brands is to raise revenues and increase profit margins, which led me to this theory. Yet this argument is not to decide wether it is a good or evil practice.

countryRecently Real Madrid football club announced their resort island project in the United Arab Emirates, hoping to expand their reach and build new loyal club fans, and also leverage on an already established image to extend the brand. Ikea also announced their neighborhood project in London, which is a private community managed by Ikea. These projects reflect the ability corporations have to build and manage communities and infrastructure. Extrapolating from them would only bring this theory closer to reality.

Multinational corporations are getting bigger and stronger. With profits of billions, corporations like Exxonmobil ($41 billion net income), Walmart ($15 billion net income) and Google($10 billion profits) exceed many countries’ GDP. They are also getting a stronger influence in politics and law making, to decrease taxes, limit union powers and eliminate competition along with other reasons, which is done by supporting certain candidates or by pressuring governments through supporters like in the case of the internet blackout on the 18th of January in 2012.

Nevertheless, corporations that sell tangible goods and depend on presence in a physical market might find it harder to build their own countries, it would certainly be easier for a corporation that provide services especially online. Although they have a strong influence, the clash with another corporate or industry influence is inevitable, SOPA and ACTA were influenced by Hollywood but clashed with the online industry giants, like Facebook and Google. Such policies along with higher taxes and restrictive laws would drive businesses to seek other markets and move their headquarters to other countries. Already the idea of off shore banking (like in the Cayman Islands) is one solution for mega corporations to avoid taxation.

As an example, a corporation like Google, can operate from almost anywhere, needing only representative offices in different markets. Therefore, the theory to them is not that far fetched, on the contrary, it would make sense for them to create their own laws, and bring the rest of the market on board, like Yahoo and Facebook, and maybe create the Internet country.

As mentioned before in the case of Ikea and Real Madrid, management and infrastructure can be handled by corporations. On the other hand, land is needed for such a project, but a 511 acres island in the Caribbean Sea costs US $10 million, and with some pressure they can collect a 100 votes to be recognized by the United Nations, and from there it’s a smooth sailing. And the result is a country owned and run by a corporation.

This is just an exploration and an extrapolation of a possible future scenario. It might turn out to be the coolest country, with a great education and health system, or it could end up controlling the online industry for the rest of the world. I think we can only wait and see.

Written by: Avi Bisram

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