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Press release
Social and Strategic Research|Travel and Hospitality|Brand and Customer Experience|Global|English

Reputation drops for top ten countries in 2016

Nuremberg, 08.12.2016

Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index 2016

  • Multiple changes of place in the top ten ranking
  • UK, USA and Germany suffer largest declines in global perception of their national brands.
  • Canada jumps ahead of France to 4th place, with only a narrow gap between it and the top three

Nuremberg, December 08, 2016 – Results just released by GfK show that all of the top ten countries in the leading Anholt-GfK Nation Brands IndexSM (NBISM) have suffered falls in their global reputation this year – with eight of those being classed as significant drops.

2016 Index
overall ranking
Nation2015 Index
overall ranking
Score difference
2016 - 2105
1United States1-1.04
3United Kingdom3-1.31
NBISM score changes: minor +/-0.26-0.50; medium +/-0.51-1.00; large >+/-1.00

The study measures global perceptions of 50 developed and developing countries – and is unmatched in the level of detail on which the nation ranking is judged. 

This year, the UK and USA suffered the largest decreases of over one point each, with Germany, Japan and France seeing the next largest drops. The fact that all of the top ten countries saw falls in global perception marks a stark departure from 2015, when eight of the top ten countries actually improved their overall NBI score. 

Professor Simon Anholt, the independent policy advisor who created the NBI study in 2005, comments, “Usually, global perception of individual countries is incredibly stable – but changes can and do take place. It is a country’s perceived impact on the world that affects its global reputation, far more than its assets or achievements - and this is what we are seeing here. Those countries that are perceived as being world influencers are suffering following a year of ongoing international conflict and humanitarian issues.”

Vadim Volos, GfK’s senior vice president of public affairs and consulting, adds, “How a nation is perceived is a function of both long-standing attributes (such as stereotypes of its people or region and images of its natural and social environment) and short-term influences (such as positive or negative news coverage or dramatic events). Each nation has some ability to impact either of these areas, by promoting the nation’s key positive assets to drive up inbound tourism and investment. But dramatic shifts in reputation can take time.  Our study shows our clients where their nations stand in terms of their current image, momentum and potential – helping them to determine their best path to success: a strong nation brand.”

Declines in NBI scores do not necessarily produce changes in the overall rankings – at least, not immediately. The US, Germany and the UK all maintain their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes – however, the US now holds only a nominal lead over Germany, presenting Germany with an opening to reclaim the top spot in the coming year. Similarly, Canada – now in 4th place, having overtaken France – is breathing hard on the heels of the UK.

Outside the top three positions, there have been several changes of position, signaling a sharp contrast to the stability observed prior to 2015. France’s significant score drop, driven largely by losses in its perceived Governance and Immigration & Investment, has allowed Canada to capture 4th place, leaving France in 5th. Japan also moved down the ranking from 6th place to 7th, allowing Italy to overtake and move up one position compared to 2015.

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About the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index 2016

Conducted annually, the study measures the image of 50 countries, with respect to Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment.

In 2016, a total of 20,353 interviews were conducted online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over.

Data are data weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics of the 2016 online population in each country, including age, gender and education.  Additionally, in the US, UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing.

Fieldwork was conducted from July 7 to July 25, 2016.

The 50 countries included in the 2016 survey are:

  • North America: USA, Canada, Cuba
  • Western Europe: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Northern Ireland
  • Central/Eastern Europe: Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Kazakhstan
  • Asia-Pacific: Japan, South Korea, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand
  • Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador
  • Middle East/Africa: United Arab Emirates, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar.

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 and the City Brands Index in 2005.  He is the founder and Editor Emeritus of the quarterly journal, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, and the author of Brand New Justice, Brand America and Competitive Identity – the New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions.  His latest book, Places, was published by Macmillan in 2010, together with a completely new edition of Brand America.  Anholt was awarded the 2009 Nobels Colloquia Prize for Economics and a Professorship Honoris Causa in Political Science by the University of East Anglia in 2013.

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