NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, FutureBrand reveals its 8th annual ranking of the world's leading country brands – moving Switzerland to the #1 seat in the consultancy's 2012-13 Country Brand Index (CBI), a preeminent global study of country brands.
In keeping with past year's studies, the 2012-13 CBI ranks the world's countries – from their cultures, to their industries, to their economic vitality and public policy initiatives – based on global perceptions today. Drawing insights from a collective of 3,600 opinion-formers and frequent international travelers from 18 countries, FutureBrand utilized its proprietary Hierarchal Decision Model (HDM) to determine how key audiences – residents, investors, tourists and foreign governments – see the world's country brands, from awareness through to advocacy.
The top 25 country brands of 2012-13 include:
Future Forward Country Brands
In a new addition to the study, FutureBrand has published the Future Fifteen, a ranking of 15 country brands on course to transform the global landscape economically, politically and culturally in years to come.
In contrast to existing global marketplace estimates founded wholly on GDP or population, FutureBrand's 2012-13 CBI examines a cross-section of data-driven, behavioral and aspirational forces to forecast the potential of evolving country brands.
The inaugural Future Fifteen recognizes the United Arab Emirates as the forerunner among tomorrow's leading country brands. The report cites the UAE's aptitude in capitalizing on its abundance of natural resources and in exercising excellent government foresight around policy and investment as one of the strongest indicators of its future success. Despite positive momentum in the region, the CBI also notes the UAE's impending obstacles, including the tremendous challenge of fair wealth distribution.
Drawing from around the world, the Future Fifteen recognizes the potential of the following country brands:
Future Drivers of Brand Strength
To develop the Future Fifteen, FutureBrand collaborated with a global panel of experts across public policy-, business- and media–related disciplines to identify the driving forces behind consumers' country-based decisions and perceptions. A forward-focused evolution of the CBI's existing dimensions, these Future Drivers of brand strength emphasize six core determinants of a country's prospective leadership, including:
Governance: A government's ability to effectively implement policies that protect its people and goals, as well as outside factors such as the influence of corruption on a macro- or micro-level
Investment: A country's financial commitment to its future vision based on investment in infrastructure, education, healthcare, communications technology and international partnerships
Human Capital: The competencies, knowledge and values underpinning a national vision
Growth: The current momentum behind a country's growth in population, GDP, exports, etc.
Sustainability: A country's financial management, resource dependence and adherence to international norms
Influence: A country's weight in the global community as evidenced by economic, political and cultural influence
While a high ranking in any one of these dimensions may not guarantee a country's future success, FutureBrand's report indicates that a combined commitment across each of these elements can be telling in determining which nations will become a global force.
Themes of 2012-2013
The report also identifies several core themes driving shifts in the 2012-13 country brand rankings. Highlights include:
The Decline of the Iconic United States Brand: Undeniably one of the world's most widely recognized country brands, the United States, has traditionally enjoyed a reputation in-line with its core values and ideals, such as freedom, democracy, ambition and individualism. In the face of successive fiscal crises, however, the influence and normative values of the West are beginning to lose clout with a global audience. Perhaps as a consequence, the United States brand has declined eight places in the overall index since 2009—a year when the US led the index at number one.
Despite an upswing in brand perceptions following the 2008 appointment of President Barack Obama, attributes like Political Freedom, Stable Legal Environment and Freedom of Speech have suffered declines in perception as the nation nears its 2012 presidential election. Amid questions of foreign policy, the near-approaching "fiscal cliff" and a staggering US$14 trillion national debt, brand USA is left to face its biggest opportunities and, possibly, setbacks during this year's election cycle.
Switzerland's Rise as a Model Nation: As a symbol of economic, cultural and social stability, brand Switzerland shows that the cultivation of freedom, tolerance, transparency and environmentalism can put a country's brand ahead—even in difficult economic times. After year-over-year growth in the CBI, Switzerland surpasses two-time leader Canada to enjoy top overall honors.
The Olympic Effect on Brand UK: With over eighteen months of celebrations and international coverage—from the Royal Wedding to Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee—brand UK has captivated millions around the world. However, garnering approximately 900 million viewers, over six million visitors and 100,000 hours of broadcast coverage, the 2012 Olympic Games were the pivotal moment in showcasing British heritage, pageantry and nostalgia.
While brand UK now enjoys some of the highest rankings in the CBI's Awareness, Familiarity and Preference dimensions, once the fanfare of the Olympics dies down and the ubiquitous display of the union jack fades, focus will turn to the United Kingdom's uncertain future. As the possibility of Scottish independence looms on the horizon, latent tensions between England and Scotland continue to rise. The world will be watching, and evaluating, how well brand UK maneuvers this critical political impasse.
The Untapped Power of the PIIGS: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain represent a grouping of nations defined by the economic crises they share, but also by the cultural and natural assets they have to offer. While all five countries are facing crippling debt, macroeconomic imbalances, rigid labor markets and increasing austerity measures, Italy, Spain and Ireland in particular hold steady in the world's top twenty-five brands. Only Greece and Portugal continue on a downward trend in the CBI as both countries contend with economic crisis—Greece attempting to avoid default and Portugal coping with a recent downgrade to junk status by Standard & Poor's.
The Small but Mighty Singapore: Despite its limited natural resources and a population of only five million, Singapore has developed into a highly competitive brand through deliberate and successful perception management. Formerly known for its authoritarian policies, this city-state has repositioned itself as a gateway to Asia for the international business community. Ranked first in the world for ease of doing business by the World Bank and second in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitive Index, Singapore is now celebrated as one of the largest financial centers in the world.
Although seen as a safe, efficient and corruption-free haven for investment and business, today brand Singapore also takes its place among the world's strongest-performing countries in a multitude of other dimensions: second in Investment Climate, sixth in Advanced Technology and seventh for Regulatory Environment according to the 2012-13 report.
The FutureBrand 2012-13 CBI also highlights the changing climate of the world's countries by region, adding a level of perspective to its forecast by contrasting rising stars against their sister-nations.
Summary & Outlook
The 2012-13 CBI demonstrates that global shifts are not only a product of economic standing or political power but also of consumer perception. From progressive politics to a sense of openness and freedom, a country that is attuned to the desires and needs of its people will inevitably boost its brand image. Like businesses in the private sector, a country that effectively manages its brand can create a powerful emotional connection that moves both consumers and organizations to invest in its future.
Additional trend reportage, expert findings and data-rich analysis can be found in the full download of FutureBrand's 2012-13 Country Brand Index, available at http://www.futurebrand.com/think/reports-studies/cbi/2012-2/overview/
FutureBrand (http://futurebrand.com) is a global brand consultancy built on an inimitable focus on innovation and the future. Spanning 26 offices across 18 countries, FutureBrand's capabilities cover everything a brand needs to stay ahead: from measuring actual and potential brand value to defining breakthrough brand strategies and creating powerful identities. FutureBrand has positioned and revitalized many of the world's most recognizable brands, including: American Airlines, The US Army, UPS, Dow, ABInBev, Casella Wines, Intel, McKesson, London Olympics 2012, Nike, Unilever, Capital One and MasterCard.