Japan, Switzerland and Germany have the strongest country brands, according to the Country Brand Index 2014. Also in the top ten of world’s leading country brands are Sweden, Canada, Norway, the United States, Australia, Denmark and – surprise – Austria.
The Country Brand Index 2014 shows that a strong country brand and reputation leads to competitive advantage. The index offers valuable insight into the levers countries can pull for stronger perception across the dimensions that drive visitor choice. The country-of-origin effect is unbroken, and consumer brands influence people’s perception of a specific country.
What makes a strong country brand?
First of all, FutureBrand makes it clear that not all countries qualify as ‘brands’. In fact, only 22 out of 75 countries studied meet the criteria of a ‘country brand’. Essentially, countries need to demonstrate measurable competitive advantage over their peers, which is the case when people are more likely to visit, recommend and do business with them – or if they buy a product because it is ‘made in’ a specific country.
The key drivers of a country brand include having a reputation for high quality products, a desire to visit or study in a country and perceptions of good infrastructure. For example, 70% of respondents believe Germany has high quality products, which is reflected in its high esteem overseas, making it a top three country brand in this year’s rankings.
But the Country Brand Ranking also shows that country brand perception strength is as much about innovation, technology and the environment (sustainability leadership) as it is political and economic significance, which hints at a shift in the drivers of country reputation shaping the future.
Key findings from the Country Brand Index 2014
Some of the key findings from the country image and reputation analysis presented in the Country Brand Index are:
Just because people know about a country doesn’t mean there will be a brand advantage: For example, Italy enjoys higher awareness levels than Japan (89% compared to 84%) but is seventeen places lower in the rankings.
Businesses and their products influence country brands: Consumer brands such as Toyota, Nintendo, Honda, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic in the case of Japan are powerful and reflect back on the country.
Expertise rules: France is most strongly associated with Fashion (65%), Germany with Automotive (77%) and Japan with Technology (78% – the highest score of a country in a category).
Watch out for technology, innovation and sustainability: Top country brands are seen to have more momentum in technology and innovation or environmental friendliness than political, economic or cultural significance.
Global cities influence country brand – but don’t determine it: There is often a correlation between perceptions of city influence and country brand strength, but not always. The ranking of the twenty most influential cities does not include any in Norway or Denmark – both top ten country brands. And seven of the most influential cities are not in the top twenty country brands.
For details on methodology and to download the full report, visit the FutureBrand website
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