Maurizio di Robilant: Every Country Has a Competitive Identity. Italy's is Beauty.
By Alexis Christoforous
Fiat. Campari. Barilla. Moncler. These iconic and internationally recognized brands all have one thing in common. They are clients of Robilant Associates, Italy’s first and leading brand strategy and design firm.
CEO Maurizio Robilant, who founded his namesake company in 1984, says building a brand’s image goes well beyond eye-catching logos, sleek packaging, and innovative ad campaigns.
“Before all that, we go and look for the soul of a company,” Robilant tells The Voice of Business. “We go into the company. We find out what are the roots, what is its essence.”
Robilant has applied that philosophy to creating a brand strategy for his home country of Italy, with his foundation, Italia Land of Beauty, which recently joined Newest Corp., the parent company of The Voice of Business, as a content provider.
“The idea is to bring our knowledge and our know-how not only to our clients, but to our country,” he said. Robilant says Italy’s “competitive identity” is beauty and capitalizing on that idea can bring real value to the country.
“We have beauty in our history. We have beauty in our landscapes. We have the most fantastic beauty in art, but we have beauty in whatever we do, whatever we build, whatever we eat,” he said.
Robilant added that his “dream” would be to have a ministry of beauty in Italy that would work to promote businesses associated with consumer goods, inventive technologies, creativity, and tourism both inside and outside of the country.
According to a survey produced by the foundation and the think tank Prometei, the “beauty economy” in Italy is worth more €240 billion, or 16.5 percent of the country's GDP.
“Competitive Identity is very difficult to build and it's very easy to lose,” Robilant said.
As an example, he said the “American dream” and “innovation” are the competitive identity of the U.S.“You turn west and you look at innovation through those eyes,” he said.
“If I close the door of a BMW or of a Mercedes, you hear the slam of quality. The best cars in the world are made in Germany, so Germany has a competitive identity, which is based on quality, engineering, and mechanical inventions. If you see a red square and you put a white cross into it, you immediately think of Switzerland,” he added.” You have a sense of precision, quality, reliability.”
When it comes to Italy's competitive identity, Robilant said “beauty” is much more than aesthetics.”Beauty is love, attention, care, justice. It's many other things.” He said his biggest challenge is selling “beauty” as a competitive identity of Italy to Italians, who he believes take all of that beauty for granted.
“If Italians buy this and they become conscious of it, they could put it into their work, into their talks, into their storytelling, and they would use it as a tool of competition.”