Germany Retains Top “Nation Brand” Ranking, US and China Experience Significant Decline

The United Kingdom moves to second place, its best performance ever recorded, with reputational gains on the Governance, Culture, People, and Tourism Indices. There are major ranking slips in the top-10 with the United States’ ranking dropping from sixth place last year to 10th this year.

The author(s)

  • Jason McGrath Senior Vice President, Head of US Corporate Reputation
  • Uri Farkas Account Manager
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New York, NY, October 27, 2020 — 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:

  • The United Kingdom’s ranking jumps from fourth to second place, and Australia advances from 10th to ninth place. 
  • 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. top 10


“The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index 2020 results clearly shows that individual country brands are as distinctive as ever, and that performance on key drivers of image have ebbed and flowed from one country to another.”

— Milorad Ajder, Ipsos Global Service Line Leader, Reputation

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, and People 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.

The United States’ performance on NBI 2020

The United States ranks in the top-10 on the NBI 2020 ranking. This year, the United States’ reputational strengths are on the Immigration and Investment and Culture categories – driven by positive opinion about the United States’ excellence in sports and appeal as an investment hub. Conversely, the United States’ relative brand weaknesses are on the Governance, and People categories – particularly on the government’s effort to promote peace and security and the welcoming nature of its people.

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 and 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 similar reputational categories, implying that they are both facing comparable 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. Australia’s overall NBI rank improves from 10th place to ninth place, while New Zealand's improves from 14th place to 12th place.
Australia and New Zealand are positively perceived on the Governance, 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

Leadership in Image Sub-Categoriestop 5


The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 Exports category remains generally unchanged from 2019, with the exception that Japan rises to first place and the United States falls to second. Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada round out the list of top-5 nations - in the exact same rank order as last year.  
The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 Governance category remains virtually unchanged since 2019. Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany compose the top-4 nations – in the exact same order as last year; however, NBI 2020 marks New Zealand’s debut in the Governance category’s top-5. New Zealand’s Governance ranking improves from ninth place in 2019 to fifth place in 2020, consequently replacing Norway on this list.
The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 Culture category sees some noticeable re-organization in 2020. Italy improves from third place in 2019 to first place in 2020. The United Kingdom improves from fifth place to third place while France falls from first place to second place and the United States falls from second place to fifth place. Germany’s fourth place ranking on this category remains unchanged from last year. 
The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 People category sees some minor changes from 2019. The only change in the composition and ranking of the top-3 nations – Canada, Italy, and Australia – is that Italy has risen from third to second and Australia has fallen from second to third place. However, the United Kingdom makes its appearance in the top-5 of this category after improving from seventh place in 2019 to fourth place in 2020 and dropping Switzerland to fifth place. 
The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 Tourism category sees some slight reconfiguration in 2020. Italy, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom remain in the top-4 in 2020.  Greece re-enters the top-5 for the first time since 2018, ranking in 5th place - replacing the United States. 
The top-5 ranking for the NBI 2020 Immigration and Investment category remains largely unchanged. Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom retain the same rank from last year. Sweden makes its debut in the top-5 at number five, after improving from sixth place and replacing the United States – marking the first time the United States has ever fallen out of the top-5 on this reputational category.

About the Study

For the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI), we conducted 20,019 interviews online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over. Data are weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender, and education of the 2019 online population in that country. Additionally, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing in the U.S., UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil. Fieldwork was conducted from July 7th through August 31st, 2020.

The 50 nations measured by the survey are as follows, listed by region:

North America: Canada, the United States

Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Wales

Central/Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine

Asia-Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru

Middle East/Africa: Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Jason McGrath
Senior Vice President, Corporate Reputation, United States
[email protected]
+1 (973) 658-1664

Uri Farkas
Account Manager, Corporate Reputation, United States
[email protected]
+1 (212) 293-6174

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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 56 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 6 million views, and his more recent one launching the Global Vote, over a million. He has written five 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 Senior Vice President, Head of US Corporate Reputation
  • Uri Farkas Account Manager