The post-election landscape has generated much debate about Scotland's identity as a nation in terms of its wider position within the UK and Europe, with the SNP's seminal advance central to the direction and character of the dialogue.

One aspect of national identity that we often don't understand is how our collective "brand" is perceived by others or, as Robert Burns famously observed: "O wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us".

Since the early 1990s there have been various attempts to categorise and market "Scotland the Brand", to effectively bottle the essence of what the country means in order to enhance external marketing, most notably through tourism programmes, export drives and wider public policy.

Branding is multifaceted, particularly where entire countries are concerned. Image, authenticity, personality and equity all play a role in shaping how initiatives are developed by individual organisations and governments.

Country branding generates several central questions. What's Scotland like to visit? Why would foreign companies invest here? Why would people buy Scottish products and expertise or move here to work?

Brand authenticity is an underlying theme that reverberates with those considering the quality of products and services from a host nation such as Scotland. The provenance of food and drink products would contribute to, for instance, total brand equity, whilst the performance of our "human" brands - everyone from politicians to movie stars - can aid the level of advocacy for the national brand.

In a competitive world, a small nation such as Scotland faces stiff brand-related competition in terms of the substitute products and services offered by others, and the list of competitors is no longer confined to similar localised European countries but is much more global due to the internationalisation of consumer tastes. After all, we ourselves shop around when we pick international goods or go on holiday abroad.

After the independence referendum, a pledge was made to impose a strengthened "British" brand identity on Scottish institutions under the control of the UK Government.

This strategy seems questionable despite the Conservative majority at Westminster, largely as evidence of a unique Scottish social democratic identity has been strengthened rather than diminished.

Scotland has often sat uncomfortably under the umbrella of the British brand, perhaps because of the independent institutions of the education and legal systems and the church, all of which arise from what's sometimes called the brand story: the history and traditions that shape perceptions of those looking in from the outside.

The unprecedented international news coverage of both the referendum and the General Election result has also had an impact on how we are perceived here and overseas.

Nicola Sturgeon's role in spearheading the SNP image in the election not only raised her own personal standing, but it also helped shape the social democratic identity that probably occupies the heart of Scotland the Brand: open to business yet placing people rather than privilege at the centre of public policy.

Mhairi Black, the previously unknown 20-year-old student who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire South, has also become an unlikely icon of Scotland's brand evolution, even featuring in Time magazine, itself an institution normally reserved for those with privilege.

The extent to which businesses and institutions in Scotland will subscribe to a rejuvenated Scottish brand identity will depend not only on current policy makers in Edinburgh, but also on what happens within the wider British state.

The forthcoming UK wide referendum on EU membership throws into question the European umbrella brand of which Scotland has been an integral part. Often Scots report that they only "feel European" when they travel outside the continent, but from a trading perspective a UK exit could be very damaging for Scottish business interests and, consequently, the brand.

Likewise, Westminster-imposed policies in respect of energy and immigration could impact on the perception of Scotland as a green and sustainable location, or a place where workers have mobility of movement and are welcomed as part of the community.

An obvious political policy divergence is emerging, and austerity measures are likely to constrain the ability of the Scottish Government to pursue publicly funded campaigns in tourism and exporting, the very programmes that could strengthen "Scotland the Brand".