Nation Brands Index 2023: Japan takes the lead for the first time in NBI history

For the first time in Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index history, Japan finishes in first place, completing its steady climb from fifth place in 2019. Germany drops down to second after a six-year reign, while Canada remains in third place overall. The United Kingdom and the United States climb the ranks and place fourth and sixth, respectively. Italy drops one rank and places fifth, while France sees the largest rank change within the top ten and falls from fifth to eighth place.

The author(s)
  • Jason McGrath Corporate Reputation, US
  • Moriya Bobev Corporate Reputation, US
  • Kimberly Liedel Corporate Reputation, US
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For more than 15 years, the annual Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) study has measured perceptions of nations around the world. 2023 is a new year for the NBI as Japan overtakes Germany, becoming the first nation other than the U.S. or Germany to take the top spot. More shake ups can be seen within the top ten rankings:

  • The United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia all climb the ranks while Italy, France, and Sweden fall.
  • Germany drops to second place for the first time since 2016.
  • France drops from 5th to 8th – its lowest rank ever recorded.

The rising global popularity of Japan over the last few years, culminating in it becoming the most impressive country is striking.  The USA will be heartened by its improved position, but France heading in a downwards direction will add to its internal self-doubts

Ben Page
Global CEO of Ipsos


Ipsos | NBI 2023 | Top 10 rankings evolution


Japan pulls ahead

Japan has surpassed Germany and ranks 1st out of 60 nations on the Nation Brands Index – becoming the first nation from the Asia-Pacific region to top the NBI. While Germany has held 1st place for a record breaking six years straight, Japan has been steadily climbing the ranks – placing 5th in 2019, 4th in 2020, 3rd in 2021, 2nd in 2022, and finally 1st in 2023. Japan’s position improved across the board this year, and it has broken into the top ten on all six indices. Its reputation remains strongest on the Exports Index, where it now holds 1st place on all three attributes: contributions to science and technology, being a creative place, and product appeal. Japan also finds reputational strength on the People and Tourism Indices, where the nation receives high ranks for employability of its people and vibrancy of its cities.

“The international images of nations are important not only because of their huge impact on the ability of those nations to attract trade, tourism, investment and talent: they are also symptomatic of the geopolitical undercurrents that shape our world and our collective future,” says NBI founder Simon Anholt. “The fact that Japan is now the most admired country on earth – the first country apart from Germany and the United States to reach this position – confirms that the global balance of soft power is shifting before our eyes. We are in a new order: the 2023 Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index is the first unmistakable sign that the Asian Century has begun.”

Germany moves to second, Canada holds third

For the first time since 2016, Germany drops to 2nd place on the NBI. Germany’s position within each of the indices remains relatively stable, but with Japan’s rankings moving in a more positive direction, Germany has been overtaken. However, Germany’s reputation continues to stand strong in 2023. It earns top five ranks on the Exports, Immigration and Investment, Governance, and Culture Indices with positive perceptions of its sports excellence, product appeal, and contributions to reducing world poverty.

Consistent with 2022, Canada rounds out the top three with its 3rd place ranking. Global perceptions of Canada remain strong, and the country retains its lead on the People and Immigration and Investment Indices with 1st place rankings.

The United Kingdom reenters the top five

Last year, the United Kingdom fell out of the top five for the first time in NBI history and landed in 6th overall. This year, the UK jumps to 4th place and reclaims a spot near the top. Perceptions of the country are relatively stable; consistent with last year, the UK places 4th overall on the Exports Index, 5th on Immigration and Investment, and 6th on Tourism. Opinions of the UK’s Governance have improved – especially with regard to its government’s competency and honesty and protection of the environment.

The U.S. continues its rebound, France continues its fall

The United States and France have held spots in the Nation Brands Index top ten since 2008. However, their placements are not static; both countries have seen considerable shifts in rank over the years. The United States enjoyed a long reign in 1st place from 2009 to 2013, and again in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, perceptions of the country on the Governance, People, Tourism, and Immigration and Investment Indices declined, causing the U.S. to fall from 1st to 6th. It remained in 6th until 2020 – the first year the survey was fielded after the COVID-19 pandemic began – when further declines on the Governance, Tourism, and Immigration and Investment Indices pushed the U.S. to 10th place. After this historical drop, the country has since started to climb the ranks once again. In 2023, the U.S.’s rise in rank is bolstered by top ten ranks on four of the six indices: Exports, Culture, Immigration and Investment, and Tourism. Respondents think highly of its contributions to science and technology, vibrant cities, sports excellence, educational qualifications, contemporary culture, and investment appeal.

France has also experienced notable shifts; after maintaining 4th place overall from 2011 to 2015, France’s rank fell to 5th in 2016, then jumped up to 2nd in 2017. The country moved up again to 2nd in 2019 after falling to 4th in 2018 and has since began a steadier decline. This year, France receives its lowest rank yet and lands in 8th overall. While the country remains reputationally sound on many indices and places within the top ten on Culture, Tourism, Exports, and Immigration and Investment, its weaknesses can be seen on the People and Governance Indices. Perceptions of fair treatment and respect of the rights of all its citizens, behaving responsibly in the areas of peace and security, and welcoming nature all declined in 2023 and contribute to the drop in overall rank.

Ukraine enters the bottom five

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, the effect that conflict can have on a country’s reputation begins to show in Ukraine. Ukraine enjoyed a relatively stable reputation between 2017 and 2022, consistently landing in the fourth tier of measured NBI countries (#41-#50).  However, as other countries’ reputations have improved over the last year, Ukraine’s reputation has been mostly stagnant. Ukraine sees an Overall NBI score change of -0.07 point, compared to the global* average score change of +0.90 point. With this minor score decrease, Ukraine’s Overall NBI rank drops from 47th to 57th in 2023, placing it in the bottom five with Botswana, Russia, Tanzania, and Kenya. Similarly, Ukraine’s scores at the index level have not increased at the same rate compared to the 60-nation average, remaining relatively stagnant and resulting in large negative ranking shifts on the People, Governance, and Exports Indices.  Ukraine fell to last place on key attributes like willingness to work and live in the country for a substantial period, high quality of life, appeal of investing in businesses there, and desire to visit.

*Jordan, Philippines, Portugal, and Romania were not measured in 2022 and are therefore not included in global average score change calculations.

Desire to visit and invest at all-time high

The overall desire to visit countries around the world – if money was no object – has reached an all-time high in 2023. Analysis of the average ratings on this metric demonstrates how the desire to travel to countries has changed over time. Desire to visit dipped overall between 2019 and 2020 before rising to a historical high in 2021. 2022 saw a sharp decline in the average desire to visit other countries, but survey respondents are looking to travel once again. The average has increased overall and most nations observed an increase on this metric – but notable declines are seen in France, Ukraine, and Canada.

Ipsos | NBI 2023 | Desire to visit
*Please note that in 2021, the number of measured nations was increased from 50 to 60.

The appeal of investing in businesses worldwide has fluctuated in the past few years as well. A longitudinal analysis of the average ratings on this metric reflects these shifts and reveals a long-term increase in investment appeal. In 2020 following the effects of COVID-19, the average investment appeal of nations’ businesses went down. Ratings on this metric then increased overall with the 2021 recovery from the pandemic, but they decreased again as inflation rose in 2022. This year, investment appeal is back up, despite concerns of inflation lingering worldwide.

Ipsos | NBI 2023 | Appeal of investing in countries' businesses
*Please note that in 2021, the number of measured nations was increased from 50 to 60.

All 60 NBI nation scores and rankings

The full list of nation rankings and scores is published to provide sufficient context for potential movement within the measured country list. How did your country rank?

About this study 

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) collects over 60,000 interviews online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over each year. Data are weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age and gender. Fieldwork was conducted from June through August.
The panel countries in which nations are measured in 2023 are as follows, listed by region:

  • North America: Canada, the United States
  • Western Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom
  • Central/Eastern Europe: Poland, Russia, Turkey/Türkiye
  • Asia-Pacific: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
  • Middle East/Africa: Saudi Arabia, South Africa

The nations measured in 2023 are as follows, listed by region:

  • North America: Canada, the United States
  • Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Wales
  • Central/Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey/ Türkiye, Ukraine
  • Asia-Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru
  • Middle East/Africa: Botswana, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates

About Simon Anholt

Simon Anholt designed and launched the Nation Brands Index in 2005. Since 1998, he has advised the presidents, prime ministers and governments of 63 countries, helping them to engage more imaginatively and effectively with the international community. He is recognized as the world’s leading authority on national image. Professor Anholt also publishes the Good Country Index, a survey that ranks countries on their contribution to humanity and the planet, and is Founder-Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. He was previously Vice-Chair of the UK Foreign Office Public Diplomacy Board. Anholt’s TED talk launching the Good Country Index has received 12 million views, and is the all-time most viewed TED talk on ‘governance’.  He has written six books about countries, cultures and globalization and is an honorary Professor of Political Science at the University of East Anglia. His latest book, The Good Country Equation, was published in August 2020.

The author(s)
  • Jason McGrath Corporate Reputation, US
  • Moriya Bobev Corporate Reputation, US
  • Kimberly Liedel Corporate Reputation, US