When a nation becomes a commodity: The Country Brand Index 2008

We live in an era of global brands. McDonald’s, Starbucks, H&M, Coca Cola, Australia… Wait, what???

You read correctly, Australia recently won the top spot of the 2008 Country Brand Index. Nation branding, as it’s officially referred to, is the theory and practice of measuring and building the reputations of countries; basically applying standard commercial brand management that you’d find with commodities and using it to analyzing everywhere from Austria to Zimbabwe.

The 2008 study conducted by Future Brand, a global brand consulting firm, used rankings from 30 different categories to come up with the final index. Among the categories were History, Standard of Living, Friendly Locals and Environmentalism. It’s like a beauty pageant for countries, with the most well-rounded coming out on top. Here are the top ten:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. USA
  4. Italy
  5. Switzerland
  6. France
  7. New Zealand
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Japan
  10. Sweden

When you look at that list, referring to countries as specific brands starts to make a little sense. Don’t we all have pretty concrete associations with France for example? Wine, croissants and cheese. And what about Sweden? Meatballs, moose and blondes. Looks like what we once referred to as stereotypes has a new name.