Talent and capital are increasingly mobile, so a country’s image and reputation — its brand — can have a big impact on the country’s economic fortunes.

This is particularly true in smaller nations such as Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates, which have all cultivated an investment and tourism-friendly image. Whether it’s attracting talent or wooing investment dollars, highly ranked nation brands can often outperform their rivals in the global marketplace.

The effect of a country’s image on the brands based there and the economy as a whole makes a nation brand the most important asset of any state.

– David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance

Today’s Chart of the Week uses data from Brand Finance’s Nation Brands report, which attempts to quantify the reputations of various countries around the world.

Quantifying Perception

The report breaks down the methodology in more detail, but here how the scoring system works. Brand Finance uses three pillars to calculate a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score:

  1. Goods & Services: Includes factors such as openness to tourism, market size, and trade rules
  2. Society: Includes factors such as quality of life, corruption, and cultural image
  3. Investment: Includes items such as talent retention, use of technology, R&D, taxation, and regulation

The BSI score is then used to calculate a hypothetical royalty rate, and to forecast revenues to ultimately derive a brand value (post-tax revenues discounted to calculate a net present value). This calculation produces the “Brand Value” of a country.

The Most Valuable Nation Brands

One of most impressive gains came from second-ranked China, which is rapidly closing the gap separating them from the United States. China’s brand value surged over 40% to $19.4 trillion — more than the cumulative brand value of the next five countries.

Not to be outdone, the United States also posted impressive numbers. Despite being a mature economy, the country’s brand value grew by 7.2% over the last year.

Here is the full top 10 list:

Rank Country Nation Brand Value Change vs 2018
1 ?? United States $27.8T +7.2%
2 ?? China $19.5T +40.5%
3 ?? Germany $4.9T -5.7%
4 ?? Japan $4.5T +26.0%
5 ?? United Kingdom $3.9T +2.7%
6 ?? France $3.1T -4.0%
7 ?? India $2.6T +18.7%
8 ?? Canada $2.2T -1.8%
9 ?? South Korea $2.1T +6.7%
10 ?? Italy $2.1T -4.7%

Top Countries by Brand Strength

One characteristic of the brand value score is that it’s heavily weighted towards the world’s larger economies. The BSI score, by contrast, may be a more accurate reflection of a government’s guidance of its nation brand as it eliminates the inherent GDP advantage that these bigger economies have.

Using the BSI scoring method, Singapore comes out on top — as it has every year since it supplanted Germany in 2015. The highly prosperous city-state serves as the business hub of Southeast Asia and is renowned for its world-class education, healthcare, transport, and low crime levels. These factors, paired with the nation’s unwavering political stability and commitment to its ‘Future Economy’ strategy, makes the island a very strong and stable nation on the global stage.

The top 10 strongest nation brands:

Rank Country Brand Strength Index (BSI) Score Change vs 2018 BSI Rating
1 ?? Singapore 90.5 -1.9 AAA+
2 ?? Switzerland 89.9 -0.3 AAA+
3 ?? Netherlands 89.6 +1.9 AAA+
4 ?? Germany 88.2 +3.5 AAA
5 ?? Luxembourg 86.9 +2.1 AAA
6 ?? U.A.E. 86.6 -1.9 AAA
7 ?? Finland 86.4 -1.0 AAA
8 ?? Japan 85.8 +1.9 AAA
9 ?? United States 85.7 +0.1 AAA
10 ?? Denmark 85.6 +2.6 AAA

The United States makes the top 10, but has fallen in the rankings since sitting at fourth place in 2014. That isn’t necessarily an indictment of the U.S. though — the country’s rating has improved somewhat, moving from AA+ to AAA over that same time period.

Turkey was one of the success stories of 2019. The country’s BSI score rebounded by nearly 50% after experiencing a large drop in 2018.

Republished by permission of Visual Capitalist.

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