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Germany knocks USA off top spot for ‘best nation’ after 5 years


​ * Germany sees large gain in ‘sports excellence’, which helps in part to drive it to first place

* USA is downgraded heavily by Russia and Egypt for role in global peace and security

* Russia is only nation to suffer a precipitous global reputation drop; their score drop for “peace and security” is the largest for any single attribute

After holding the number one place since 2009, the USA has this year been pushed down to second place by Germany, which now takes the lead in the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index SM (NBI SM).

People around the world now have more positive perceptions of Germany than of 49 other developed and developing countries, according to the annual NBI SM study. The study measures global perceptions of each country, based on twenty-three different attributes that make up the six overall dimensions on which national image is based: exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment. For the 2014 study, a total of 20,125 interviews were conducted across 20 countries.

Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM
Overall Brand Ranking 2014 (Top 10 of 50 Nations) 

2014 rank   2013 rank
1 Germany 2
2 United States 1
3 United Kingdom 3
4 France 4
5 Canada 5
6 Japan 6
7 Italy 7
8 Switzerland 8
9 Australia 9
10 Sweden 10


Germany achieved the largest overall Nation Brands Index SM score increase this year – partly due to its score gain on “sport excellence”, which is the largest gain seen this year for any single attribute across the 50 measured nations.

Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor, explains, “Germany appears to have benefited not only from the sports prowess it displayed on the world stage at the FIFA World Cup championship, but also by solidifying its perceived leadership in Europe through a robust economy and steady political stewardship. Germany’s score gains in the areas of ‘honest and competent government’, ‘investment climate’, and ‘social equality’ are among the largest it achieved across all the aspects covered by the NBI 2014 survey.” 

In contrast, the USA has shown the least impressive NBI SM gain among the developed nations. While it still is seen as number one in several areas, including creativity, contemporary culture, and educational institutions, its role in global peace and security only ranks 19th out of 50 nations. 

Xiaoyan Zhao, Senior Vice President and Director of NBI SM at GfK, comments, “In a year of various international confrontations, the United States has lost significant ground where tension has been felt the most acutely.  Both Russia and Egypt have downgraded the U.S. in an unprecedented manner, particularly in their perception of American commitment to global peace and security, and in their assessment of the competence of the U.S. government.  However, on a global level, it is Russia that has received the strongest criticism from public opinion.”

In previous years, Russia had shown upward momentum - but in the 2014 NBI study, it stands out as the only nation out of 50 to suffer a precipitous drop.  Russia’s largest decline is registered on the Governance dimension, especially for the attribute of its perceived role in international peace and security. This is the most drastic score drop seen for any single attribute across the 50 nations. Overall in this year’s study, Russia has slipped three places to 25th, overtaken by Argentina, China, and Singapore.

Ms. Zhao adds, “International diplomacy clearly reaches beyond the realm of public opinion – however, policy makers need to be keenly aware that the way in which a country is perceived globally can make a critical difference to the success of its business, trade and tourism efforts, as well as its diplomatic and cultural relations with other nations. As our partner Simon Anholt often says, the only superpower left in today’s world is global public opinion.”

For more information on the full scope of findings from the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, please contact Xiaoyan.Zhao@gfk.com or view the Place Branding Research Slip Sheet.

About the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index 2014

Conducted annually, the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index measures the image of 50 countries, with respect to Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment. For the 2014 study, a total of 20,125 interviews were conducted in 20 countries, with at least 1,000 interviews per country. Interviews were conducted online with adults aged 18 or over. The most up-to-date online population parameters were used to weight the achieved sample in each country to reflect key demographic characteristics such as age, gender and education of the online population in that count.  Additionally, in the U.S., the UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing. The report reflects the views and opinions of online populations in the 20 countries surveyed. Fieldwork was conducted from July 10 to July 28 2014 (extended to July 31 in Egypt).