Brand America Rated #1

The 2011 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index was released on October 12th. Brand America was once again ranked as the most admired country in the world. This is the third year in a row Brand America was ranked #1. This is in spite of the fact America doesn’t make the top 10 for either the way it governs domestically or behaves internationally.

For perspective, here is the top 10 most admired countries based on the 2011 results:

1. United States

2. Germany

3. United Kingdom

4. France

5. Japan

6. Canada

7. Italy

8. Australia

9. Switzerland

10. Sweden

The Anholt-GfK Roper nation Brands Index is quickly becoming the gold standard for evaluating the global perception of a nation as a place to live, work and/or visit. The study was first launched in 2008. The study evaluates nations on six parameters – exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment.

Expert Perspective

I wanted to get a better understanding of what is driving the #1 ranking for Brand America. So I asked GfK’s Xiaoyan Zhao (Director of the NBI study) “What’s the most surprising finding about Brand America this year?”

“Brand America continues to lead, and expands its lead over second place Germany. And this momentum bucks the trend for other developed countries many of which have experienced downward movement of NBI scores or have stalled in the last 4 years, but Brand America’s score has been steadily growing. The historic moment of President Obama’s election in 2008 propelled the United States to the top rank the following year.


Our NBISM 2008 study showed that the United States was ranked last among the G7 countries on the overall NBISM. In the years since the inception of NBISM in 2005 this has been a consistent pattern, despite the highly visible public diplomacy communication efforts from the U.S., whose administration’s unilateral foreign policy, among other things, alienated many around the world. Following the historic election of President Obama and particularly with his new leadership style shown at the first G20 meeting in April 2009, and his new domestic policy orientation, the world’s connected citizens took notice of the behavior change, and boosted the United States to the top of the 2009 NBISM overall rankings. Most notably, in that year’s study, the U.S. jumped to a 7th rank from a low of 22nd in 2008 for competent and honest government, and from 21st to 10th for respecting the rights of its citizens and treating them with fairness.


Brand America’s score difference between 2008 and 2011 is the single largest increase in NBI’s four year history. Even if one thinks of America’s 2009 standing as the real America – 2008 being an apparition – America since 2009 has experienced steady growth every year. It may be hard to believe for some Americans, but in the eyes of 20,000 connected citizens of the world, this is still the nation that gets the strongest admiration, and with a strong upward momentum.


Brand America’s major strengths are its energy, vibrancy, and opportunities to succeed. Its top 5 attributes including education qualifications, business investment opportunities all rank #1 out of 50 nations, followed by another 5 attributes ranking #2 including creativity, contribution to science and technology, Americans’ appeal as good friends. Against these strengths, America’s weaknesses come into sharp relief – its science and technology advancement has not been applied to environmental protection; its personal friendliness has not made its people as a whole welcoming to outsiders. Its role in international peace and security is still a drag on its reputation, improved as it has since the Bush years.”

Your Thoughts?

Do you find it surprising that despite the economic climate and apparent lack of unified political will that Brand America is rated #1 for the third year in a row? The latest reported FDI inflow data suggest a slight gain in Brand America share versus the E.U., do you believe the perception as the most admired country in the world matters when it comes to FDI choices? What ranking would you have expected for Brand America?

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