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WHY IS ESTONIA TURNING COGNAC INTO A BRANDY?

The ghost-man Peter Kentie is a strong brand in Estonia. The Flying Dutchman (a ghost ship that never arrives at its home port) needed a mere weak to draw deafening media attention to the creation of the brand of Estonia, which has by now become a completely lovable abbreviation, EST.

Naturally, we are better, harder-working, more exciting and cooler that our neighbours Latvians, Lithuanians, Fins, Swedes. No doubt! It could be considered cocky, if they did not feel the same way about themselves, but obviously they do. Just like all companies battling over a few cents in the same market.

The power of the message to stimulate alone confirms: a man knows what a man does. And he knows and does well. The votes against need not be counted, just the votes in the favour. And there are more than enough of those to win.


Pulling-away of the Estonian public sector figures from any cramp-free idea is an inevitability. Kentie is not the man for a dull, cheap and boring quick fix. He is a rarity. He is a National Geographic promoter, who will put up a yellow frame in the alder coppice and claim that this is a sight to see! EST will be a hit in any case.

Kentie can talk the Estonian alder and Kristiina Ehin’s goutweed up so well that they become more powerful than the Canadian maple leaf. It’s natural for the officials, however, to fall victim of prestige: not a single meeting, strategy, development plan, impact analysis, study, not a cent of aid from Europe, which could be labelled as being spent on the compulsory reconstruction works of a European periphery! Come to your senses, those of you not working for the public sector, you are helpless fumblers! We know, what Estonia needs!

In Estonia, things tend to be born as a result of desperate sweating of blood. Hanno Tomberg, Chairman of the Board of Enterprise Estonia, remarked that while the concept suggested by the Dutchman is well-suited for the English-speaking world, it cannot unfortunately be used in other languages. “It must be a uniform brand of one clear handwriting,” he found. But English language is familiar to almost everyone interested in Estonia and the handwriting of EST is very clear. EST has been born.

Coca-Cola is the brand of Estonia


Enterprise Estonia will carry on working and let the public know when they have got something finished, the news say. They are doing good work. All countries have quite a few brands/trademarks, either single company-centred, such as the airline KLM, or not – such as the Dutch wooden clogs, cheeses, etc.

It is, of course, questionable, whether Enterprise Estonia will be able to paint Estonia into Coca-Cola, which is sold in almost every country in the world. But Coca-Cola is even comprehensible for those who cannot read or speak (yet). Coca-Cola is an American by heart, a gentleman by language, a citizen of the world by spirit. Coca-Cola is worth mentioning, as it was also the most expensive trademark in the world for many years, now, the “fruit company” Apple and a few others have pushed past. One must wonder, is Apple suitable for selling phones in any language? The profits show that it’s not too bad.

For me, the “brand” of Estonia is our coat of arms with the three lions/leopards and the blue, black and white tricolour. They speak and wave, sing and dance. The cruise ships attacking the port of Tallinn bring here so many tourists that those working in the Old Town cannot count on being able to access their office doors in the morning during the summer months. All good. But there is no need for turning the Old Town or Tallinn or Estonia into the Eiffel Tower visited by seven million people every year. We cannot. We mustn’t.

Above all, Estonia needs daily hard work and efforts to make the life in Estonia better. We need to do the cool things that we like. A Hard-working Estonian is a Real Estonian and this is something worth seeing. Any trademark is of secondary importance, even though it helps to set the mood. But a thing (read: product) is needed first.

A legend raining down from the sky


Queen Elizabeth II is blossoming as a brand on postmarks as well as on currency notes, yet, she is not the only part of the self-awareness of the English. She is a kind of English Coca-Cola, though – the symbol of a Union of Nations of two billion people and 54 countries. Symbols, however, must “rain down from the sky” like the flag of the Danes, you cannot simply adopt them. Legends are always born God knows out of what and God knows how. Certainly not in an office.

Sometimes, brands can also be borrowed, taken over, a label can be glued to oneself/a product/a country, which will make all others jealous.

For example, one list of the top ten sights to see in Helsinki includes Tallinn. This is how strong a trademark our capital is – the most important sight to see in Helsinki or at least one of those. Estonia has several strong legends and violently sticking company graphics to those would be as bad as changing of the brand of Coca-Cola to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday in 1986. This is how New Coke was born, which left the market in six months’ time. The customers didn’t like it. Let’s try not to create New Coke for the 100thbirthday of Estonia. Let’s better make something that the people, that is the customers, will like. So that they’ll buy it.

Clinging to old, dignified things brings success. If you ask people how many countries have produced cognac, the quick answer is that it is only made in France, in the county of Cognac. This, however, is far from the truth.

The Russians have been completely legally producing cognac in Yerevan and Odessa. This right was acquired by Ivan Shustov, an alcohol manufacturer of Czarist Russia, at the world’s fair in Paris in 1900. His brands beat the Frenchmen themselves in a blind test. The French President François Mitterand and Boriss Yeltsin had to drink a lot of cognac in Russia and France for Yeltsin to agree to use the name of cognac in Cyrillic in the future. The legal succession had not been lost.

Us Estonians have several brands with international leverage. People. Goods. But they sell themselves. They are reborn into “cognac” thanks to their good taste. The government, however, is often attempting to do a New Coke with things that are wonderful as they are. For example, the e-state is a typical PowerPoint wallpaper with no life, sparkle or charm. An insignificant part of the economy, an insignificant part of life. Roar, leopards!