Germany Retains Top “Nation Brand” Ranking; India’s Ranking Remains Intact at 34, among 50 nations

The United Kingdom moves to second place, its best performance ever recorded, with reputational gains on the Governance, Culture, People, and Tourism Indices. Canada ranks in third place for a second consecutive year. There are major ranking slips in the top-10 with France’s ranking declining by three positions from second place in 2019 to fifth place in 2020, and the United States’ ranking dropping from sixth place last year to 10th this year.

The author(s)

  • Madhurima Bhatia Media Relations and Content lead
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This year is marked by an overall decline in perception of nations’ reputations, and the top-10 NBI nations are not immune to this overall negative sentiment. While Germany retains the top position in the 2020 Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands IndexSM (NBI) for the fourth year in a row, this year is marked by noticeable gains and losses among leaders in the NBI ranking. India holds onto its ranking of 34 this year, like 2019:

  • The United Kingdom’s ranking jumps from fourth to second place, and Australia advances from 10th to eighth place – a record high for both nations.
  • France, which was ranked in second place last year, drops to the fifth spot; and the United States, whose image stabilized in 2019 after plunging to sixth place in 2017 – sees further reputational declines in 2020 falling to 10th place – a record low for both nations.

Germany Holds Top Spot in Overall NBI Ranking

Germany again ranks #1 out of 50 nations, marking the sixth time Germany tops the NBI list. Germany was the highest-ranked NBI nation in 2008, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Germany is just one year away from matching the United States’ record of seven years as the top NBI nation. Germany’s leading advantage is its consistent strengths across multiple reputational categories, particularly: Exports, Immigration and Investment, Culture, and Governance. Global citizens have positive feelings about buying German products, the employability of the German people, and the appeal of investing in German businesses, placing Germany first in all three categories for 2020.

The United Kingdom Gains Through Culture, People, and Tourism

For over a decade the United Kingdom has consistently placed at the top of the NBI, hovering around third place for the past five years, and NBI 2020 is the first time since 2008 that the United Kingdom has come in second place. Top marks for the United Kingdom’s Exports, Immigration and Investment, as well as improved perceptions of its Governance, Culture, People, and Tourism helped secure the United Kingdom’s high ranking this year.

France slips in the ranking

Global attitudes toward France remain strongly positive overall, despite dropping from second to fifth place in 2020. France ranks in the top-5 on the NBI 2020 ranking. This year, France’s reputational strengths are on the Culture and Tourism categories – driven by positive opinion about its contemporary culture and the vibrancy of its cities. Conversely, France’s relative brand weaknesses are on the Immigration and Investment and People categories – particularly on the perception of equality in society and the welcoming nature of its people.

India’s performance on NBI 2020

India ranks 34 among 50 nations in the NBI 2020 ranking and retains its ranking of 2019. This year, India’s reputational strengths are on the Culture and Exports categories – driven by positive opinion about its rich cultural heritage and its contribution to science and technology. Conversely, India’s relative brand weaknesses are on the People and Governance categories – particularly on the perception of the friendliness of its people and its efforts to protect the environment.

“The Anholt-Ipsos Nations Brand India 2020 shows, the upside of India’s image is determined by the reputation strengths of its cultural heritage, exports, contribution to science and technology. The brand weakness is perceived to be around governance and people; friendliness of Indians and the way we feel about the environment. Perceptions are not reality. At the same time perception is the only reality,” says Parijat Chakraborty, Country Service Line Leader, Ipsos Public Affairs and Corporate Reputation.   


The United States and China’s Reputation Battered

In 2020, the first NBI measurement since the COVID-19 Pandemic, the United States and China are the nations with the most notable declines on overall NBI rank. The United States - which held NBI’s top spot on seven occasions: in 2009-2013, 2015, and 2016 - has dropped four positions from sixth place in 2019 to 10th place in 2020. The United States’ decline is triggered by a sharp decrease in public opinion of its Governance, People, Tourism, as well as Immigration and Investment – traditional areas of reputational strength for the United States. China - whose reputation remained stable at 23rd place over the past four years – sees an overall rank decline of 12 positions from 23rd place last year to 35th place this year. China’s ranking declines across multiple categories this year – particularly Governance, People, Tourism, and Immigration-Investment.

These outcomes denote the lowest NBI rankings ever recorded for both of these nations. Most notably, the United States and China see score declines on the same reputational categories, implying that they are both facing similar reputational challenges stemming from trade tensions and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Australia and New Zealand Rise in Ranking

Australia and New Zealand are two nations with notable improvements on the overall NBI rank. It is possible that their highly-respected handling of the global public has positively impacted their global standing. Both nations improve by two positions each: Australia’s overall NBI rank improves from 10th place to eighth place, while New Zealand's improves from 14th place to 12th place - marking the highest NBI rankings ever recorded for both of these nations.

Australia and New Zealand are positively perceived on the Governance, People, and Immigration and Investment categories - which suggests that the manner in which both of these nations have approached the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic are reflecting positively on these nations’ leadership, infrastructure, and societal values.

“Not for the first time, this year’s NBI shows that country images are unlikely to be affected by domestic factors: how well or badly a country has managed the pandemic, for example. Why not? Simply because the domestic affairs of most countries have little or no impact on the lives of people outside that country’s own borders.What really does make a difference is the impact a country is perceived to have on the rest of humanity and the planet, whether positive or negative. And since a powerful and positive “brand image” feeds directly into more tourism, more trade, more talent and more investment, such considerations should be right at the top of any government’s economic planning..The NBI is telling us yet again that if countries want to do well, they need to do good.”— Simon Anholt

The author(s)

  • Madhurima Bhatia Media Relations and Content lead

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