Simon Anholt’s blog

Famous thinker and speaker Simon Anholt has launched a new blog at This will be a precious space to learn off the most revered guru on nation branding (or competitive identity, as he now prefers to say) in the world.

One of his latest posts was about the upcoming US elections and their effect on America’s brand image:

In the meantime, a lot of my correspondence has been around the gripping US primaries, and the question of which candidates are likely to have the greatest impact on America’s currently somewhat depressed international image.

So which candidate will be better for ‘Brand America’?

Nothing very scientific here, I’m afraid: but in my opinion it’s Brand Barack, without a doubt. This this has relatively little to do with whether he and Senator Clinton are black or white, male or female, little to do with their politics, and quite a bit to do with how masculine or feminine each is. Barack Obama has – I hope he will excuse me saying so – some interestingly feminine qualities (he gives the impression of being caring, culturally sensitive, gentle and considerate), while Senator Clinton displays some strikingly masculine personality traits (despite the odd tear, she appears driven, forceful, aggressive). Since the woes of ‘Brand America’ are associated with an excess of political testosterone, you could well argue that what it needs more than anything else right now is a good dose of estrogen.

Challengers need masculine traits in order to succeed and to appeal; those in positions of great power will be better loved if they display a more feminine side, and as I argued in my book Brand America, most of the difficulties currently faced by the United States in terms of its international reputation can be ascribed to the fact that it has achieved so many of its goals, and has moved from challenger to dominator.

The lack of a global democracy is never plainer than when the U.S. presidential elections come around: the man or woman who gets the job has more influence over people’s lives in other countries than many a local leader, and yet the rest of the world can only sit and hope, and trust to the American electorate – whose tastes, ambitions, politics, concerns and interests are usually somewhat different from those of overseas populations – to make the right choice on their behalf.

If ever there was a need for effective public diplomacy, it would be a huge, collaborative effort on the part of certain European, Asian and African governments to attempt to influence the voting behaviour of American citizens.

Dream on, as they say in America!

There are another remarkable insights. One about China:

Made in China‘ brand from merely ubiquitous to actually trusted, and ultimately desired. I once predicted that within ten years’ time, we would start to see American and European products being launched on the marketplace with fake Chinese-sounding names in an attempt to make them appear more desirable than their real country of origin would allow: but this goal – which, let us not forget, Japan managed to achieve in just a few decades – looks further off than ever.

And yet two more about Switzerland:

Switzerland has come top of the list for governance ever since I started running the Nation Brands Index: if the world had to pick one government to rule the planet, Switzerland is the nearly unanimous choice.

Swiss people are admired and respected more than they are loved: like the Germans and the British, they appear to be the sort of people you’d willingly hire, but don’t especially covet as friends. People want to be friends with the Italians, the Brazilians, the Canadians and especially the Australians, but not the Swiss.

And yet another gem:

Five or ten years ago, the qualities which many people seemed to admire in other countries were simple things like prosperity, modernity, attractive landscapes, economic growth, cool products. Today, what makes a positive ‘nation brand’ has become more nuanced, and questions of integrity, generosity, environmental friendliness, transparency and democracy come into the equation more and more strongly.

A blog worth reading, indeed.