Iceland Country Performance, Brand Image and Reputation

Iceland is the OECD’s smallest, but fastest growing economy, strongly helped by booming tourism and prudent economic policies. By becoming the first country to enforce gender pay parity, this island nation with a sparse population and unique landscape has proved to be one of the most egalitarian societies. Have these changes had a positive effect on Iceland’s reputation? Apart from being a green country, is Iceland also a happy society? Let’s explore Iceland’s distinctive positioning on the global stage, drawing insights from data provided by TPBO partners and esteemed institutions.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Iceland’s soft power and brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and wellbeing
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Iceland’s soft power and brand strength

How does Iceland compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, Iceland secures the 34th spot, behind Luxembourg (32nd) and Poland (33rd). Impressively, Iceland’s score has shown growth, rising from 38.6 in 2022 to 44.7 this year. Due to this improvement, the nation jumped 3 positions this year.

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six different factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking Iceland secures the 22nd position, a drop of one position since 2022.

Appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel in Iceland

What is the global perception of Iceland as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. They place Iceland at the 121st global position. Regionally, Iceland now holds the 39th position, experiencing a drop of three positions, falling behind Serbia (37th) and Moldova (38th).

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Iceland at the 32nd global position. Regionally, Iceland now holds the 16th position, experiencing an impressive jump of five positions.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, Iceland secured the 16th position, maintaining its ranking from 2022. Currently, it sits just behind Norway (14th) and Canada (15th) while surpassing Saudi Arabia (17th) and Czech Republic (18th).

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2023, Iceland belongs to the Strong Innovators group along with Norway and United Kingdom. Its strengths are Public-private co-publications, International scientific co-publications, Lifelong learning, Foreign doctorate students, and Innovative SMEs collaborating with others. While weaknesses are Medium and high-tech goods exports, Design applications, Air emissions by fine particulate matter, Sales of innovative products, and Environment-related technologies.

Iceland a “good” country?

What is Iceland’s contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Iceland secured the 47th position, trailing behind Germany (45th) and Austria (46th) Notably, Iceland performs admirably in the sub factor of donating money, ranking 9th globally, with Myanmar leading in this category. This overall ranking showcases a massive drop for Iceland as in the 2022 ranking, it ranked 23rd.

In the Good Country Index, Iceland currently holds the 20th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Culture (28th), World Order (25th), Planet & Climate (15th), Prosperity & Equality (22nd), and Health & Wellbeing (27th). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, Iceland was ranked 34th, and in 2021, it held the 36th position; showcasing a strong upward trend for the country.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Iceland ranked in the dark blue zone (9-10 range) with a 9.52 out of 10. This is higher than Sweden who scored a 9.39 and Finland 9.29 but lower than Norway who has the highest score on the map 9.81.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index, ranks Iceland 14th with a score of 74/100, tied with Canada, Estonia and Uruguay. Iceland’s score has maintained the same since 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Iceland in 29th position, it highlights that Iceland, although quite high in the ranking, some significant and major challenges are still to be overcome. However, the no poverty and the affordable and clean energy factors have achieved the status of SDG achievement and continue to be on track. Also the reduced inequality and the peace, justice and strong institutions factors have both achieved SDG status.

Peace and happiness in Iceland

Is Iceland a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Iceland 1st, a position held for fifteen years!

The Institute for Economics & Peace ranks Iceland 79th in the Global Terrorism Index 2024 report, an improvement from the 93rd position in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index, tying with many countries for least impactful in terms of terrorism. 

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks Iceland 3rd.

Iceland’s environmental performance 

How well does Iceland perform in terms of environmentally sustainable action-taking?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Iceland 10th, sitting between Switzerland (9th) and the Netherlands (11th). The EPI analyzes the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Iceland has experienced a change in score of positive 4.4.

Talent attraction and competitiveness 

What are the conditions for talent attraction and retention in Iceland?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Iceland at the 26th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past 5 years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Iceland, classified as a high-income country within the European regional group, currently holds the 15th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, Iceland performs most remarkably in the GK Skills pillar where it holds the 4thposition and its main challenge is the Grow pillar where it ranked 23rd.

Last updated in April 2024. More country profiles here.

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