According to a survey released Thursday, Germany has toppled the United States as the country with the best global "brand image." The annual poll attempts to measure how major countries are perceived by the rest of the world, and in last year's survey, America was number one. Since then, however, Germany has climbed to the top spot, while the United States has fallen all the way to number six.
The Nation Brands Index is a joint project by the German market research firm GfK and British political consultant Simon Anholt, which launched and have been running it since 2005. It attempts — through a survey of over 20,000 people in 20 nations — to assess the global perception of different countries through six different metrics: Governance, Exports, People, Culture and Heritage, Investment and Immigration, and Tourism.
Among the 10 highest-ranked countries on the list, the United States experienced the most drastic swing in its reputation from the year before. Japan, meanwhile, jumped from number seven to number four, while France went from fifth place to second. Aside from the United States, the only other top 10 country to see a decrease in its global standing over the last year was Italy, which fell from number six to number seven this year.
In addition to overall rankings, the survey also assesses each country's global standing by subcategory. For instance, although the United States was ranked second in Exports, it didn't even make the top five countries in the Governance or People subcategories.
In a press release, Anholt blamed America's diminished global reputation squarely on one factor: Donald Trump. In a press release, Anholt explained the United States' fall:
The USA’s fall in the ‘Governance’ [subcategory] suggests that we are witnessing a ‘Trump effect’, following President Trump’s focused political message of ‘America First’. A similar fall in global perception of the USA was seen following the re-election of George W. Bush, when the USA fell to seventh place. Previously, America has never stayed outside the top ranking for more than a year at a time: it will be interesting to see whether this holds true in the 2018 ranking.
Although 2017 wasn't a good year for America in the reputation department, it was a great year for Japan, which improved its standing in every subcategory and reached its highest rank in the overall brand rankings in almost 10 years, In fact, Japan tied Canada to become the fourth most popular country in the world. France, too, increased its global standing in every category and overall.
According to the 2017 NBI, the 10 countries with the best global brands are, in order:
- The U.K.
- Canada and Japan (tie)
- The U.S.
One caveat to keep in keep in mind is that the survey only asked for people's opinions about 50 countries. There are around 195 countries on Earth (depending on who you ask), which means that roughly 75 percent of all nations never had the chance to be given the "best brand image" award. Notable omissions from the survey include Israel, Iran, Cuba, the Netherlands, Portugal, most of Africa, and all of Central America.
Make no mistake: America's brand image took a serious hit in the year after Trump was elected. Paradoxically, however, Americans also gave their own country higher marks in 2017 than the year before, according to the creator of the survey.
"On the positive side," Anholt noted in the press release, "Americans’ assessment of their own country is notably more positive this year than last." Whether that's actually a positive is debatable.