A Clean Slate For Branding – Cuba Now Open For Business

The embargo has been lifted, so what’s next for brands wanting to enter Cuba? 
When the US embargo was first placed on Cuba in 1960 (a whopping 55 years ago), it was referred to as “the blockade”. The embargo restricted trade and exports to Cuba, except for medicine and some foods. Typically this is normally due to political motivation and a form of protest reaction to another country’s practice. No doubt this had a detrimental affect on Cuba economically.  The history is long – but in short, the embargo was slightly lifted and plans to normalise relations has been planned by the US.

Cuba is now open for business – but is it ready?

Airbnb was one of the first major companies to take advantage of doing business in Cuba – tripling their accommodation listings and only taking two months to grow, as opposed to three years in other major markets. Wow.

There are now thousands of listings available for tourists through Airbnb in Cuba, and the reality is that many hard working students have more potential in tourism, than they do in their own field of study. Accommodation prices are as low as $68 per night in Havana, and even less in the outer suburbs.

All major airlines are now flying in and out of Cuba daily, however it has been said that the overall infrastructure may be not be entirely able to cope with the influx of tourists, with reports of up to four buildings collapsing everyday. With wages so low, and food supplies on a thin line, the country is in desperate need of tourism and income.

Whether or not tourism will ultimately improve or destruct Cuba, only time will tell. With many American tourists already flocking to visit a country once banned travelling to, there’s a good chance that they will be lining up at the nearest McDonalds rather than at a local cafe and supporting local businesses. A sad but realistic outlook.

From a branding point of view – the country has a clean slate, and may be one of the only remaining unbranded spaces in the world. It is a country untouched by multinational’s and dominant company logos.

Cuba is a country which carries a musk of cigars and dark rum, late night salsa clubs and beautiful but broken buildings, so there is a potential for more rich and meaningful branding. Let’s see if Cuba withstands globalisation and remains a mysterious and magical country.

If there was ever a time to see Cuba in it’s purest form, or as they call it “puro” – something that is proudly Cuban, it’s now.

Olga Dumitru
Client Account Executive 
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