Nation branding

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Nation branding aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). In the book Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, the authors define nation branding as “the application of corporate marketing concepts and techniques to countries, in the interests of enhancing their reputation in international relations.”[1] Many nations try to make brands in order to build relationships between different actors that are not restricted to nations. It extends to public and private sectors in a nation and helps with nationalism. States also want to participate in multilateral projects.[2] Some approaches applied, such as an increasing importance on the symbolic value of products, have led countries to emphasise their distinctive characteristics. The branding and image of a nation-state "and the successful transference of this image to its exports - is just as important as what they actually produce and sell."[3]This is also referred to as country-of-origin effect.

Nation branding is a developing field in which scholars continue their search for a unified theoretical framework. Many governments have resource dedicated to nation branding. Their aim is to improve their country's standing, as the image and reputation of a nation can dramatically influence its success in attracting tourism receipts and investment capital, in exports, in attracting a talented and creative workforce, and in its cultural and political influence in the world. Different ways that nation project their nation brand include export, foreign direct investment, and tourism. One example of exporting products is that the country Germany is known for their motor industry because famous car companies like Mercedes, Audi, and BMW are German companies. An example of foreign direct investments that help the nation brand are US companies building maquiladoras and other European countries having factories in different countries.[4]

In practice[edit]

Nation branding appears to be practiced by many countries, including the United States, Canada, France, United Kingdom (where it is officially referred to as public diplomacy), Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and most Western European countries. An early example of this was the Cool Britannia approach of the early days of the New Labour government (following the Britain (TM) pamphlet by Demos's Mark Leonard), though this has since been replaced by a more credible Public Diplomacy Board. India undertook a nation branding effort, led by the India Brand Equity Foundation, which successfully positioned India as the "fastest growing free market democracy" in Davos in 2006.[5] There is increasing interest in the concept from poorer states on the grounds that an enhanced image might create more favorable conditions for foreign direct investment, tourism, trade and even political relations with other states. Developing nations such as Tanzania and Colombia are creating smaller nation branding programs aimed at increased overall image and with the case of Colombia, changing international perception.

Nation branding is seen as a part of Sweden's public diplomacy, especially with Brand Sweden. Sweden uses two main institutions, called the Utrikesdepartementet and the Swedish Institute, to study their nation branding. They wanted to present a good image through the press and also collect different reports on Sweden’s representations abroad. Different events and campaigns were also made to promote Brand Sweden, one example being the House of Sweden which was an embassy in the US. Another campaign was the Second House of Sweden which used the internet to introduce Sweden’s embassy virtually. Researchers in Sweden also studied the Nation Brand Index (NBI) results to collect data.[6]

In academia[edit]

Nation branding can be approached in academics as a field in social sciences, political sciences, humanities, communication, marketing and international relations. Scholars such as Evan H. Potter at the University of Ottawa have conceptualized nation brands as a form of national soft power. All efforts by government (at any level) to support the nation brand - either directly or indirectly - becomes public diplomacy.

Anti-globalisation proponents often claim that globalisation diminishes and threatens local diversity, but there is evidence that in order to compete against the backdrop of global cultural homogeneity, nations strive to accentuate and promote local distinctiveness as a competitive advantage.[7]


Nation Brands Index[edit]

The concept of measuring global perceptions of countries across several dimensions (culture, governance, people, exports, tourism, investment and immigration) was developed by Simon Anholt. His original survey, the Anholt Nation Brands Index, was launched in 2005 and fielded four times a year. Today it is fielded and published once a year in partnership with GfK, named the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index. [8][9][10][11][12]

Brand Finance Nation Brands[edit]

Brand Finance produces an annual Brand Finance Nation Brands table, in which 100 brands are ranked according to national brand value. This is based on the royalty relief methodology and takes into account the brand strength of individual countries.

Futurebrand Country Brand Index[edit]

Futurebrand publishes the Country Brand Index every year, which includes an overall ranking of the 75 countries, rankings by dimension, complete perception dashboards for the top five country brands, regional leaders and averages and 'ones to watch' for the future.[13]

Monocle Soft Power Survey[edit]

Monocle magazine released its third annual Soft Power Survey in 2012.[14][15] The latest edition of the survey was launched in 2013 [16]


  1. ^ Kerr, Pauline; Wiseman, Geoffrey (2013). Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 354. 
  2. ^ Pamment, James (2013). New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century A comparative study of policy and practice. New York: Routledge. p. 35-36. 
  3. ^ True, Jacqui (2006). "Globalisation and Identity". In Raymond Miller. Globalisation and Identity. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-19-558492-9. 
  4. ^ Olins, Wally (2005). "Making a National Brand". In Melissen, Jan. The New Public Diplomacy Soft Power in International Relations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 169-179. 
  5. ^ Yog, Anupam (2016). "Positioning Brand India".
  6. ^ Pamment, James (2013). New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century A comparative study of policy and practice. New York: Routledge. p. 99-126. 
  7. ^ True, Jacqui (2006). "Globalisation and Identity". In Raymond Miller. Globalisation and Identity. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 978-0-19-558492-9. 
  8. ^ "GERMANY KNOCKS USA OFF BEST NATION TOP SPOT AFTER 5 YEARS". Press Releases. GfK Custom Research North America. 12 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "US VOTED TOP COUNTRY FOR ATTRACTING TALENT AND INVESTMENT – BUT WITH A REDUCING LEAD". Press Releases. GfK Custom Research North America. 14 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Two-Thirds of Nations Experience Reputation Decline in 2012 Nation Brands Index". Press Releases. GfK Custom Research North America. Oct 23, 2012. 
  11. ^ Nation Brands Index 2011 released
  12. ^ Nation Brands Index 2010 released
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Further reading[edit]

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