• Transform magazine
  • August 20, 2019

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Best country brands are positive and welcoming, report says

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By looking at experience and purpose values, FutureBrand has examined the best ‘countrymakers’ and players in nation branding, showing how a country’s actions can influence perception and reputation.

Collective values and a common vision of purpose can shape a country’s reputation, according to FutureBrand. Four years after its previous report, the brand consultancy has released its 2019 Country Index, in which it examines 75 countries and their global reputations. By advancing the concept of ‘countrymaking,’ FutureBrand’s report zooms in on the key factors driving a country’s behaviour and influencing perception, showing how respondents perceive a country based on its national brand and actions.

A country’s reputation is deeply influenced by its political stance, which can erode the national brand. The best countrymakers in the index were the ones able to demonstrate strong shared values and good quality of life, through focus on heritage, health, standard of living and a number of other key values. The more a country had a sense of global responsibility, the more favourably it ranked on the list.

Japan still holds the first place since the 2014 index, followed by Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland in the top five. Quality of life, environmental values, product making and politics have all played a key part in shaping FutureBrand’s index, showing the factors that make a country’s reputation attractive around the world. Japan’s rich culture and life have been fundamental to establish its position as the number-one countrymaker, by gathering conversations on natural beauty, culture and care for the environment globally.

Both the United States and United Kingdom have lost several points – going down to positions 12 and 19, respectively – compared to four years ago. This is a shift which, according to FutureBrand, can be explained by their political landscapes and sustainability issues; with poor ranking on environmental friendliness in the US and uncertainty over Brexit in the UK. Tourists, visitors, students and investors find them less inviting, due to a change in tolerance values and the political shift towards extremism and populist parties.

That trend is not just happening in Europe and America; India is facing populist tensions due to its prime minister’s outlook too, and China was pushed down in the index due to its tolerance values, safety and security issues, as well as political beliefs and high cost of living.

FutureBrand’s index surveyed 2,500 people in 17 countries. It has revealed a concern in the steady rise of extremism, with politics dividing nations and people rather than creating a space for dialogue and compromise. Respondents have rewarded the most forward-thinking, innovative, positive and welcoming countries, showing the importance of keeping world problems at the top of our priority lists. And, although there are still obstacles to overcome, the report shows how several countries are already working to build a better future – a choice which, indirectly, brings positive contributions to their overall national brand.

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