Brasilia: An Example of Nation Branding Through City Building


This blog entry will draw from the view that nation branding is a process requiring domestic/identity change and make the case that the construction of the current capital city of Brazil can be interpreted as an exercise of nation branding.

Steven Curtis, referencing Anholt, makes the case that a country’s identity is not independent from its domestic realities (Curtis, 2017).

The point could be raised that the construction of Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, comes from the acknowledgment of such factor and the will of improving the country’s image, brand if you will, especially in the eyes of Brazilians.

In order to fully grasp the meaning of the construction of Brasilia, it is necessary to remember it was built under the presidency of Kubitschek, a president whose motto was to provide Brazil with “50 years of progress in 5” (AboutBrasilia, 2005). His commitment to modernization and, therefore, to provide a modern image of the country is undeniable.

The construction plan of the capital city itself reflects the will of portraying the country as a modern one, with Lucio Costa’s “plano piloto” (pilot plan) imagining the city in the form of an airplane winning the public competition for the project (Baldussi, 2010).

It could be suggested that the construction of Brasilia does not represent an exercise of nation branding merely because it seeks to add the image of modernity to the national brand but also because it seeks to strengthen its image of a democratic country.

The National Congress being located in the centre of the three powers’ square can be regarded as the cockpit of the airplane suggesting that the people are in charge of piloting the airplane-nation. The palace of the executive power and the one of the Supreme Court are transparent symbolizing that “power must be transparent to the people”. Another metaphor aimed at highlight the democratic feature of the country is the peculiarity of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that can easily be told apart from the others. These two buildings are also transparent, elegant and surrounded by water. The effort of giving a stronger visual impact on these two buildings aims at symbolizing, again, that the power is in the hands of the people. They, in fact, speak to the outside (ministry of foreign affairs) and to the inside with justice (ministry of justice) (Almeida, 2013).

Finally, Brasilia can also be rightly regarded as a symbol of an united country. Despite of the fact Brazil’s territory extends deeply inland; the first two capital cities of the country were both on the coast. The process of building a capital city in the geographical centre of the country can be regarded as a means of strengthening integration (Almeida, 2013).

Evidence seems to suggest the construction of the current capital city of Brazil, Brasilia, can be regarded as an exercise of nation branding. It draws from the acknowledgment that national brands are dependent on domestic realities and identities and seeks to improve the image of the country in the eyes of Brazilians themselves. The construction plan of the city highlights values that the country wanted to introduce or strengthen in its brand such as modernity, democracy and integration.



Curtis S. (2017), Nation Branding and Competitive Identity, UK.

AboutBrasilia (2005), History of Brasilia, available at

Baldussi D. (2010), Brasilia, 50 Years as the Capital, available at

Almeida J. (2013), Manual do Candidato – Historia do Brasil, pages 445, 475, Brazil.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s