The United Kingdom‘s Nation Brand is meticulously curated as a blend of tradition, innovation, and global influence. The nation’s commitment to technological advancement and financial leadership in institutions like the City of London adds a layer of modernity to its identity. But how does the UK perform in global rankings measuring talent attraction potential, public diplomacy, soft power strength and environmental sustainability?

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • The UK’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

The UK’s soft power and brand strength

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

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, the UK continues to secure the 2nd spot, sitting right behind  the United States. Impressively, the UK’s score has shown growth, rising from 64.9 in 2022 to 67.3 this year.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, the UK secures the 9th position,  behind Germany (7th) and New Zealand (8th). Notably, the UK excels in three key areas: entrepreneurship (4th) assessing technological expertise, digital infrastructure, and a  skilled labor force; power (5th), evaluating military strength, export prowess and economic influences; and cultural influence (6th) which analyzes  trendiness, modernity, and strength of consumer brands. However, the UK dropped one position from 2022, with lowest scores in movers and open for business factors.

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  the UK secures the 4th position, a jump of two positions since 2022.

Appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

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

The Expat Insider 2023 ranks the UK in 43rd position out of 53 countries,  below Denmark (41st) and Austria (42nd). However, the UK ranks 9th in theWork Satisfaction metric and 10th in the Career Prospects metric.

As per the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023, the UK does not rank within the top 20 nations for FDI inflows; however FDI flows to the United Kingdom rose to $14 billion after a revised -$71 billion in 2021 whilst cross-border M&A sales doubled to $202 billion. In terms of FDI outflows, the UK ranks 5th in 2022, a slight increase from its 7th position in 2021.

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. Regionally, the UK continues to place 1st; although the slight decrease in Digital Demand – D2 © and online performance, the UK’s success is due to the maintaining of high Net FDI and impressive CBS Rating. Globally, the UK secures the 1st position, knocking down the long standing leader the United States.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places the UK at the 5th global position, dropping one position from the previous ranking.  Regionally, the UK now holds the 4th position, experiencing a drop of two positions, due to Germany’s and Italy’s rise.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, the UK secured the 29th position, showing a slight decrease from the previous rankings, 18th in 2021 and 23rd in 2022. Currently, it sits just behind Malaysia (27th) and South Korea (28th) while surpassing Thailand (30th) and New Zealand (31st).

In terms of specific characteristics, the UK’s economic performance dropped  twelve positions to the 35th spot in 2023. It holds the 28th position for government efficiency, experiencing a drop of two positions compared to 2022. Lastly, the UK dropped six positions to the 34th position for business efficiency, and holds the 22nd spot for infrastructure, dropping four positions since 2022.

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2023, the UK belongs to the second group, Strong Innovators, whereas Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden are Innovation Leaders in the region. The UK’s performance has increased by  1.6% points during the period between 2016 and 2023. Its strengths are: Foreign doctorate students, Public-private co-publications, Innovative SMEs collaborating with others, Doctorate graduates, Job-to-job mobility of HRST.  While its weaknesses are: Business process innovators, Broadband penetration, Design applications, R&D expenditures in the public sector, Medium and high-tech goods exports.

How “good” is the UK?

How big is the UK’s international influence?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, the UK secured the 17th position, maintaining the previous year’s ranking. Notably, the UK performs most admirably in the subfactor of donating money  where 71% of its adult population donated money in the past year.

In the Good Country Index, the UK currently holds the 14th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (3rd), Culture (23rd), International Peace & Security (85th), World Order (11th), Planet & Climate (39th), Prosperity & Equality (13th), and Health & Wellbeing (3rd). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, the UK was ranked 8th, and in 2021, it held the 15th position. While the country has experienced a six point drop since the 2022 ranking, there has been a significant increase in the Prosperity and Equality factor as well as the Health and Wellbeing factor.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, the UK ranked in the blue zone (8-9 range) with a 8.28 out of 10. This is higher than France  who scored 8.07 and Portugal 7.89, but lower than Canada and Germany who scored 8.88 and 8.28.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index, ranks the UK 18th with a score of 73/100, tying with Belgium and Japan. The UK’s score has dropped by five since 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks the UK in 11th position, it highlights that The UK, although ranking quite high, continues to face some significant and major challenges. However, the Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure factor has achieved the status of  SDG achievement with a continuous moderate increase. The UKis also on track for Decent Work and Economic Growth factors.

Environmental performance

How does the UK perform in terms of sustainability?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks the UK 2nd, right below Denmark. 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. The UK has experienced a change in score of positive 23.

Peace and happiness in the UK

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

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks the UK 37th, dropping one position from last years’ index. the UK sits behind Kuwait (35th), and Lithuania (36th). The UK falls under the high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. The UK positioned 26th regionally amongst its fellow European countries, led by Iceland  and Denmark.

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks the UK within the medium impact (light orange) zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. The UK ranks 42nd, sitting in between Peru (41st) and Bangladesh (43rd).

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks the UK 19th.

Talent attraction and competitiveness

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

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed the UK at the 9th 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.

The UK, classified as a high-income country within the European regional group, currently holds the 10th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Moreover, the UK performs most remarkably in the Grow and GK Skills pillars where it holds the 2nd position in both and its main challenge is VT Skills where it ranked 29th.

In terms of education excellence, the UK boasts ten universities within the top 100 worldwide, according to the World University Rankings 2024. These esteemed institutions are: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Manchester, University of Bristol, University of Glasgow and University of Southampton.

Last updated in October 2023. More country profiles here.

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