The legitimisation of power

The recent recycling of national rhetorics in my native country’s political communication made me curious about the origins and the establishment of the national sentiment. Inspired by the studies of Benedict Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm and Gopal Balakrishnan, In my paper Totality: branding guidelines, I pursued to set ground to address my further concerns on the relationship of state and design, as well as nation and branding.

At the GCD Symposium I presented a scenario where the overwhelming utilisation of national assets caused a serious ‘inflation’ of the national brand to a point where the nation-state fully lost its legitimacy of power, and unable to communicate to its nation anymore.

We see that public actors are aiming to validate theirselves in the new communication architecture, crying for likes and followers as celebrities or streetwear brands. Not just organisations became part of this but whole countries with their nation branding to make themselves relevant again for the people. They using ideas which makes them followers of their own image.

According to Benedict Anderson, a nation is “imagined because members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”¹


In his book Imagined Communities, Anderson introduces three institutions: the map, the census and the museum. “...together, they profoundly shaped the way in which the colonial state imagined its dominion—the nature of the human beings it ruled, the geography of its domain, and the legitimacy of its ancestry.”²

The census reflects, so defines the way how we imagine ourselves as classified subjects.

The map, as a visual representation of a shared geography, defines the spatial limits of the state in which ‘the national’ can imagine its territory.  

The museum represents the shared past, so legitimizes its existence. The museum sets development as a linear progress dating from the capacity of the timeline.