FutureBrand -international consultancy and pioneer in country branding- has presented the 2010 Country Brand Index in partnership with BBC World News.
The role and increase in importance of countries as brands in the marketplace does not come as a surprise. The fact is that nations represent a brand within themselves, capable of arousing interest and positive associations with its positioning in the mind of human beings. They are a great asset to national brands, and vice versa. They both leverage on each other and go beyond geography. Great examples of this are Germany and its image as an excellent automobile manufacturer or Italy with its reputation as the center of design and fashion. When it comes to countries as brands vs. products, psychology knows no difference. Both evoke something called brand experience and generate desire and demand.
According to FutureBrand, each country was measured in regard to these dimensions and their performance:
- Heritage and culture
- Good for business
- Quality of life
- Value System
- Decision / Visitation
“But the most important factors, the aspects that truly differentiate a country brand, are its associations and attributes- the things that people think of when they hear a place name, or look at a photograph or plan a trip. They have to create a strong emotional connection, making people want to visit, do business, learn and build their lives in a place.” (From FutureBrand’s report)
As Al Ries and Jack Trout mention in their book "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing": “Marketing is a battle of perceptions. An installed perception in the mind is sometimes interpreted as a universal truth. Consumers make decisions based on them. The role of marketing is to deal and manipulate those perceptions.”
What are the traits that make some countries such as Canada, Australia, USA, Sweden, Japan and Switzerland be among the top? FutureBrand's report claims that these strong countries all share a clear identity, consistency and values reflected in their culture, tourism and business. The rise of countries such as Chile, Israel, Argentina, Iceland prove this point. However, this year's weakest country brands, such as Pakistan, El Salvador, Iran, Bangladesh, etc., are all symbols that reflect traits such as political and cultural struggle, economic turmoil, natural disasters or curruption, positioning them in the last spots of the ranking.
If you're interested in reading the full report, click here.
I’d like to end this post with a very powerful phrase in FutureBrand’s assessment that will forever stick with me, and that in my opinion should constitute as a philosphy to all brands, no matter the type -whether it be countries, people, products or services:
“Brand success is not about being perfect as much as turning assets into perceived strengths.”
*More than Branding would like to thank the folks of FutureBrand, and in particular Mindy Sabella for the info and support.