William J. Clinton
Have you ever thought about which nation is the biggest threat to world peace? Is it Iran or Pakistan? Or, maybe it is China or Russia?
You may be shocked by the results of a recent Gallup International 2013 poll indicating that the biggest threat to world peace is actually America. Clearly, this cannot be having a positive on Brand America’s global equity.
Gallup Poll Overview
Here are a few highlights from the global poll:
- Gallup surveyed 66,000 people across 65 nations.
- 24% of respondents felt America “is the greatest threat to peace in the world today”.
- The respondent subset with greatest animosity to America is Muslims from Middle Eastern and African nations.
- 44% of Pakistani respondents indicated America is the greatest threat; that compares with 54% of Chinese respondents and 49% of Russian respondents.
- But, it isn’t simply respondents from nations at political odds with America that felt this way – 37% of Mexican respondents, 17% of Canadian respondents and 13% of American respondents rated America as the biggest threat to world peace.
This poll is important because it provides insight into the on-going decline in Brand America’s global equity. As Brand America’s equity declines, so does its ability to attract a) the best and brightest immigrants and b) a disproportionate share of global capital investment. It is instructional that respondents from nations that receive significant US foreign aid viewed America as a threat to world peace. This is not a perception the US will be able to “buy itself” out of. This is a situation the world is looking for the US to “behave itself” out of.
Additional Evidence That Brand America Is In Trouble
If you think the recent Gallup Poll is an aberration, you would be mistaken. Previously, I have shared the results of other global research studies that suggest Brand America is indeed in trouble.
- Forbes Magazine’s 2013 list of the best countries to do business in ranks the US as #14, falling in ranking for the fourth year in a row.
- FutureBrand’s 2012-13 Country Brand Index ranks the US as #8 and the published report offers this cautionary perspective – “Even the most stable, promising and iconic country brands can lose strength.”
- GlobeScan/PIPA’s 2013 Country Ratings Poll ranks the US as #8 in global influence and its published report offers a similar cautionary message – “Views of the US have shown some sharp declines among the citizens of its allies”.
In my mind, the data provide a clear indication Brand America’s global equity is in jeopardy.
Of course, there are certainly studies you can find that indicate the US is ranked #1 on a wide range of measures. The results of these studies are great for the ego, but do little to encourage any action to improve national performance. In fact, the results are often cited as justification for current behavior.
- A growing majority believes the US is in decline, and 57% feel the world looks elsewhere to discover the future.
- Only 23% believe the country is headed in the right direction, with 67% saying things “have gotten seriously off on the wrong track”.
- The majority (69%) of residents feel their Americn Dream is harder to achieve today than it ws for their parent’s generation. And 73% believe t will be even harder for their children or grand children to achieve their American Dream.
- Nearly 2/3rds of residents believe America is in decline.
Why Does It Matter?
I believe the data suggest that without a course correction, Brand America may be entering a downward performance spiral that will result in further equity erosion and ultimately create an insurmountable barrier to achievement of the American Dream.
It matters on a philosophical level because I (like I imagine you do) want my children and grandchildren to achieve even more of their American Dream than I did. But, it also matters on an economic level.
Here is a perspective from David Haigh (CEO Brand Finance plc) on the potential economic implications of equity erosion.
“A strong brand has become a defining feature of success in the current economic climate. Worldwide hyper competition for business, combined with an increasingly cluttered media environment, means that the clear message carried by a properly managed brand can provide the crucial leverage needed to thrive. The financial uplift provided to a product or corporation from a strong brand is well known, and companies invest heavily in protecting their brands. Nations can adopt similar techniques to capitalize on the economic growth that comes with proper positioning of a nation brand. All nations should be working to actively realize this potential.”
How Do We Fix The Problem?
First, we need to admit there is a problem, or at least alarming evidence of an emerging problem. Then we need decisive action to reverse (or at least stop it from gaining momentum) the declining brand equity trend if we want the US to remain globally competitive. This means our national leaders need to make it their #1 priority to better enable residents to achieve their American Dream. Strategies for breaking down barriers to achieving the American Dream need to be developed and deployed. Based in part on the Xavier University research this includes effective strategies for addressing these issues:
- Public trust in the country’s public and private institutions must be restored.
- Unemployment needs to be addressed.
- The national debt needs to be brought under control.
- Foreign policy decisions and actions need to be seen as consistent, not at odds, with the American Dream.
In short, the nation needs a strong brand strategy in order to restore global and domestic brand equity. We need to begin doing a better job of walking the talk of the American Dream.
One step you can take is to ensure your community has a strong brand plan in place to better enable its residents to achieve their American Dream. The information contained in the www.strengtheningbrandamerica.com website provides guidance on how to do that. I believe that if more communities engage in effective branding, then in aggregate we will move the needle on improving our nation’s brand equity. Progress will be measured by improvement in the annual American Dream Composite Index score.
What are your thoughts/feelings regarding Brand America’s equity? Do you share the sentiment of US residents reported in the Xavier University American Dream research? Does your community have a strategic plan in place that allows residents to better achieve their American Dream?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.
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To view the complete set of State rankings based on the ADCI and five explanatory sub-indexes, download the complimentary 2012 American Dream State Ranking Report.