Anholt’s Nation Brand Index 2008 released

Last week, a new edition of the Anholt’s Nation Brand Index was released. The NBI is a comprehensive system for measuring and managing national reputation around the world.

If I am not mistaken, this is the first edition the nation branding pioneer Simon Anholt has released with his new research partners at GFK Roper (the former partner were Global Market Insite, GMI). Unfortunately, with the switch to GFK the Nation Brand Index has lost its quarterly character and become annual, which obviously is a loss for nation branding professionals, followers and afficionados.

Also, unlike previous edition, the data made public concerning the 2008 yearly report of the Nation Brand Index has been very poor. As far as I know, only a press release which will go into oblivion in a few days. With GMI, not only more reports were released, but also were accompanied with larger explanations and insights.

In any case, according to the Nation Brand Index 2008, Germany is the best overall country “brand”, receiving the highest ranking among the 50 nations measured in this year’s edition. The US ranks seventh, according to respondents from 20 major developed and developing countries. France, UK, Canada, Japan and Italy are also ahead of the US – which is nevertheless the most familiar country: a majority (91 percent) have at least some knowledge of the US in general.

The top 20 ranking is as follows:

“The Nation Brand Index is a report card for countries, measuring the world’s perception of each nation as if it were a public brand,” explains Simon Anholt. “Within the top 10 most positively perceived countries, the ranking reveals a strong correlation between a nation’s overall brand and its economic status.”

Adds Xiaoyan Zhao, Senior Vice President and director of the Nation Brand Index study at GFK Roper Public Affairs and Media, “Much as a commercial brand relies on a favorable public opinion to sell products, countries depend on their reputation and image to bring in tourists, business, investment and other facets important to a nation’s financial strength and its international standing.”

Following are the top ranked countries in each category, as well as two additional countries with noteworthy positions on the list:

The ranking was based on a survey of people in 20 developed and developing countries who were asked about exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment of 50 countries.

The Full List

The full list of the 50 countries taken in consideration at the Nation Brand Index 2008 is as follows:

1. Germany
2. France
3. Great Britain
4. Canada
5. Japan
6. Italy
7. USA
8. Switzerland
9. Australia
10. Sweden
11. Spain
12. Netherlands
13. Norway
14. Austria
15. Denmark
16. Scotland
17. New Zealand
18. Finland
19. Ireland
20. Belgium
21. Brazil
22. Russia
23. Iceland
24. Singapore
25. Argentina
26. Mexico
27. India
28. Hungary
29. China
30. Poland
31. Czech Republic
32. Egypt
33. South-Korea
34. Thailand
35. Taiwan
36. Turkey
37. South-Africa
38. Chile
39. Malaysia
40. Peru
41. Romania
42. Lithuania
43. Indonesia
44. Estonia
45. Arabia
46. Cuba
47. Ecuador
48. Saudi-Arabia
49. Nigeria
50. Iran

Brand USA declining

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the 2008 Nation Brand Index index is the United States’s standings, which have continued to decline in a number of key areas. Nina M. Lentini has written an article called “Brand USA Is Most Lopsided Of All 50 Nations Studied” about this issue:

We’re no. 7. They asked people around the world what they think of the United States of America and the best we can say about the results is, “We’re No. 7!” The good old “Brand USA” manages to make it, barely into the list of the G7 peers overall – but, as the senior VP and director of the Nation Brands Index (NBI) study put it, “the world is watching.”

Xiaoyan Zhao says that even before our current crisis, the world had judged our economic condition as “declining.” Fifteen percent of respondents said so – twice as much as the percentage that said the same of the world’s advanced economies. Zhao called it “a little alarming.”

Familiarity-wise, the U.S. comes out on top: a majority, (91%) have at least some knowledge of the U.S. in general, which can be a double-edged sword. For example, in the Governance aspect, which measures a nation’s responsible behavior in the international arena as well as how well it governs itself, the U.S. ranks No. 22, “the lowest of all Western democracies, Zhao says.

“Our environmental record also is not good,” she says. “We would expect to see technology breakthroughs and America bringing solutions to the world, but we rank very low in terms of behaving responsibly [in terms of] protecting the environment.”

In summary, she says, America’s reputation is the most lopsided among all 50 countries studied. But let’s look at the plus side.

In the Immigration/Investment aspect, the country is third to Canada and the UK. Even better, the country’s economic power is still recognized. The U.S. ranks second only to Japan in the Exports aspect.

“Part of a country’s reputation comes from export, economic prowess,” Zhao says, adding this note of caution: “National image does not change overnight. Image is something that you guard very, very closely. Citizens of the world don’t look at a given country’s performance on a daily basis. Our economic power is still recognized, as is the quality of our products and services.”

You can get more information on the Anholt GFK Roper Nation Brands Index here.