Nation Brands Index or Country Brand Index – Which is best?

There are a handful of good nation branding indexes including the Nation Branding Perception Index, the Reputation Institute Soft Power Survey, the Nation Image Index, BrandFinance’s Global Nation Brands league and the always attractive Monocle’s Soft Power Survey, but two indexes usually steal the show: the Nation Brands Index (NBI) and the Country Brand Index (CBI).

It’s easy to confuse them since they have a virtually identical name. But what’s the difference? Which one is best? Here are some key differences:

  • The NBI is made by the omnipresent Simon Anholt, an independent government advisor, while the CBI is made by Futurebrand, a strategic branding agency.
  • Anholt’s NBI measures reputations by surveying thousands of anonymous citizens across the world, while the CBI is an “expert panel”, which means that they are asking marketing, tourism and communications people for their professional opinion of the branding work done by various countries (and 99% of the time it’s actually tourism promotion they are looking at). The NBI reflects the views of the general population who are online, whereas FutureBrand interviews mostly travelers and hospitality experts.
  • Because of this, whereas the NBI is a very large-scale public poll of general perceptions of countries, the CBI is quite a small one. In fact, the NBI surveys 20,000 adults ages 18 and up  in 50 countries, while CBI surveys 3,400 people in 13 countries.
  • This is the reason why CBI is more volatile than the NBI – the ranking of countries  at the CBI each year depends entirely on what their ‘expert panel’ thinks about the most recent campaigns done by each of these tourist boards. The NBI, on the other hand, is famously stable, because the reality is that most people never change their minds about other countries. They are, in other words, measuring entirely different things for entirely different reasons, and I think this should be made absolutely clear.
  • The NBI holds the six aspects of the Anholt hexagon model (Exports, Culture, Tourism, Governance, People and Investment) in the same regard, while the CBI focuses more on tourism, and, secondly, foreign direct investment.

Which one is best, you ask? Well, it depends on your needs. If you’re after the holistic image countries have among the populace, go for the NBI. Yet, if you’re more interested in how professionals in the tourism and FDI industries regard the countries and their branding efforts, then the CBI is your safe choice.