A big problem with Slovenian identity abroad is that it is often being confused with Slovakia. The names of the two countries and even their flags look very similar. On the Lonely Planet guide, the photos of Slovakia are in reality of Slovenia. The two countries are so accustomed to these many confusions that a diplomat once revealed that in an undisclosed Western European capital, the Slovenian embassy meets every month with their counterparts of the Slovak embassy to exchange wrongly-addressed mail.
There has been many suggestions to avoid the confusion with Slovakia, from changing the flag to changing the official name – but which of the two countries should do it and is this really a right way out of the problem? The idea of changing the country’s visual elements (especially the flag) is alive among Slovenians. These kinds of discussions have been topical several times during Slovenia´s short history, but so far it has not decided to change the flag.
While there is nothing wrong with the country´s name, there are some problems with its recognition and foreigners sometimes confuse Slovenia with countries or destinations that have similar names. The problem is relevant for those people who have not visited Slovenia and/or do not know it well. Due to its geographical position and Slavic origins, misunderstanding and confusion is, as already mentioned, most frequent between Slovenia and Slovakia.
The green colour was recognized as the most typical colour in Slovenia. Some people suggested that Slovenia’s flag should be changed to green, just like the Netherlands’ flag should be orange. Green is regarded as the “national colour” of Slovenia by Slovenes themselves. The Slovenian national sports teams too usually wear green, instead of wearing white, blue and red (the colours of the flag). Additionally, when a new tourism brand identity was launched for Slovenia in 2007, the green colour was predominant.
Moreover, as one of Slovenia’s strengths is the country’s splendid nature, green colour fits the country’s image very well. The country has some of the most well-preserved environments in Southern Europe with clear-water lakes and rivers, dense forests and untouched landscapes. As evidence, it hosts the largest protected brown bear community in Southern Europe.
The I feel Slovenia brand was developed with an aim to overcome the problems with Slovenian awareness, recognition and its image. Nevertheless, the country brand development is a long term process, which yields results only after a longer period of time. And in the mean time we can all do something by informing ourselves more about the country, to overcome the mentioned problems and posit Slovenia as a unique country on the world map!
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