In the wake of a substantial score decline for the United States, Germany has retaken the #1 ranking in the latest Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (SM) (NBI [SM])study.
Of 50 countries measured, only the US saw its overall NBI score drop, descending from the #1 ranking last year to #6 now. Germany claimed the top spot for the second time in four years, with Japan and France also elevating their standings versus 2016.
First conducted in 2004, the Anholt-GfK study measures global perceptions of 50 developed and developing countries annually, with nations judged on six characteristics: Culture, Exports, Governance, Immigration & Investment, People, and Tourism. NBI provides the most detailed, consistent, and sophisticated assessment of national reputation.
US drops to #23 in Governance
The US’s overall score fell last year, as well, leaving it with scant room for further declines. It still ranks among the top 5 nations for three of NBI’s six metrics – Culture (where the US is #2), Exports (#2), and Immigration/Investment (#5). But the US fell from #19 to #23 in Governance – a remarkably poor score for one of the world’s leading countries; it also ranks #6 in Tourism and #11 in People.
Germany, by contrast, enjoys a very balanced image across all six NBISM indices, posting notable improvements on Culture (+1.07), Governance (+1.28), and People (+1.34). It is now among the top 5 nations for five of the six NBI metrics – and in Tourism, the lone exception, it is also gaining ground.
Germany’s overall score increases are boosted by significantly improved perceptions among Egyptians (+5.92), as well as among Russians (+2.26), Chinese (+2.17), and Italians (+2.06).
France, Japan leap up to Top 5
Both France and Japan benefitted greatly from their own score gains and the US decline. France, climbing to the #2 spot from #5 last year, improved its levels on all six metrics. It ranks in the top 5 nations for three of the six metrics, with a #1 ranking in Culture, #2 in Tourism, and #5 in Exports.
The two indices where France’s improvement is noticeably greater than the average are Governance (+2.69 for France, compared to an average +1.29 gain) and Immigration and Investment (+1.91 for France compared to +1.22 average).
This was also a banner year for Japan, which earns its highest NBI in nearly a decade; it is now tied with Canada for #4. Japan’s signature strength is its Exports, where it lands at #1. Though Japan’s score improvements on each index are superior to the average, it posted exceptional gains in Immigration and Investment (+2.56, versus an average of +1.22), Culture (+1.99 versus +0.89), and Governance (+2.37 versus +1.29).
Professor Simon Anholt, who created the NBI study in 2005, comments, “The USA’s fall in the ‘Governance’ suggests that we are witnessing a ‘Trump effect’, following President Trump’s focused political message of ‘America First’. On the positive side, Americans’ assessment of their own country is notably more positive this year than last. A similar fall in global perception of the USA was seen following the re-election of George W. Bush, when the USA fell to seventh place. Previously, America has never stayed outside the top ranking for more than a year at a time: it will be interesting to see whether this holds true in the 2018 ranking.”
Vadim Volos, GfK’s Senior Vice President of Social & Strategic Research, comments, “Nations are able to influence global perception of their national brand by promoting positive aspects that drive up areas such as inbound tourism and investment. Our Nations Brand Index allows our clients to understand where – and why - their nation stands in terms of their current image, momentum and potential. And this in turn, shows them where they need to focus, to build an increasingly stronger nation brand.”
For more information about the Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index, please visit http://nation-brands.gfk.com.
About the study
GfK conducted 20,185 interviews online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over. Data are weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender and education of the 2017 online population in that country. Additionally, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing in the USA, UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil. Fieldwork was conducted from 7-15 July 2017.
The 50 nations measured by the survey are as follows, listed by region:
1) Chinese respondents are asked to rank all nations except their own
* This indicates nations newly added into the NBISM in 2017. Also, three nations (Cuba, Iran, and Kazakhstan) were measured in 2016 but not in 2017.
About Simon Anholt
Simon Anholt is recognized as the world’s leading authority on national image and identity. Professor Anholt was Vice-Chair of the UK Government’s Public Diplomacy Board, and works as an independent policy advisor to the Heads of State and Heads of Government of more than 50 other countries. Anholt developed the concept of the Nation Brands Index (SM) and the City Brands Index (SM) in 2005.