'Brand USA' Is Most Lopsided Of All 50 Nations Studied

We're no. 7 sign They asked people around the world what they think of the United States of America and the best we can say about the results is, "We're No. 7!" The good old "Brand USA" manages to make it, barely into the list of the G7 peers overall--but, as the senior VP and director of the Nation Brands Index (NBI) study put it, "the world is watching."

Xiaoyan Zhao says that even before our current crisis, the world had judged our economic condition as "declining." Fifteen percent of respondents said so--twice as much as the percentage that said the same of the world's advanced economies. Zhao called it "a little alarming."

The 2008 Anholt-GfK Roper NBI this year involved GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media--a division of GfK Custom Research North America--for the first time. Zhao said comparisons with the two previous studies would be out of line, since this year respondents included a "more balanced example of developed and underdeveloped countries."



Germany is viewed as the best overall "brand," receiving the highest ranking of the 50 nations measured.

Top 10

1. Germany
2. France
3. United Kingdom
4. Canada
5. Japan
6. Italy
7. United States
8. Switzerland
9. Australia
10. Sweden

The index is based on a survey in which respondents from across 20 major developed and developing countries are asked to rate their agreement with statements about each nation. The statements cover six categories: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment.

"The NBI is a report card for countries, measuring the world's perception of each nation as if it were a public brand," explains Simon Anholt, NBI founder, in a statement. "Within the top 10 most positively perceived countries, the ranking reveals a strong correlation between a nation's overall brand and its economic status."

Familiarity-wise, the U.S. comes out on top: a majority, (91%) have at least some knowledge of the U.S. in general, which can be a double-edged sword. For example, in the Governance aspect, which measures a nation's responsible behavior in the international arena as well as how well it governs itself, the U.S. ranks No. 22, "the lowest of all Western democracies, Zhao says.

"Our environmental record also is not good," she says. "We would expect to see technology breakthroughs and America bringing solutions to the world, but we rank very low in terms of behaving responsibly [in terms of] protecting the environment."

In summary, she says, America's reputation is the most lopsided among all 50 countries studied. But let's look at the plus side.

In the Immigration/Investment aspect, the country is third to Canada and the UK. Even better, the country's economic power is still recognized. The U.S. ranks second only to Japan in the Exports aspect.

"Part of a country's reputation comes from export, economic prowess," Zhao says, adding this note of caution: "National image does not change overnight. Image is something that you guard very, very closely. Citizens of the world don't look at a given country's performance on a daily basis. Our economic power is still recognized, as is the quality of our products and services."

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