Trylon Communications  - August 2005

Wanted: U.S. Global Brand Policy

How do world consumers see the U.S.? According to a recent report called the Nation Brands Index, people believe that it’s a great place to do business, but that our culture is not attractive. This reinforces our call (see story) for the need for an effective, credible and pro-active public diplomacy policy to be quickly developed and implemented in Washington to better address global public relations issues.

The second Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index (NBI) report ranks the brand power and appeal of 25 developed and developing nations and is based on the opinion of 10, 000 consumers from 10 countries.

While the U.S. garnered the top spot for business, the country was at the bottom of the list for culture and heritage. This left the U.S. in 11th place overall, below countries such as Australia, Switzerland, the U.K. and France.

As globalization evolves, countries are increasingly competing for investment money, tourism dollars, attracting quality human resources and consumers. How our country is viewed by the rest of the world has a definite impact in all of these areas.

“Unlike other polls, the NBI is designed to measure the real underlying brand power of each country, something that takes generations to build and change," said Simon Anholt, one of the authors of the report. “Further research is needed, but the implications are genuinely significant for how governments manage their countries’ international reputations. A country isn’t a packet of soap powder that you can sell to a consumer.”

When the international panel was asked how much they trust a country’s government to make responsible decisions on peace and security, the U.S. came 19th just above South Korea, China, and Russia, but below all other Western nations. This perception reflects not having an effective communications policy in place to articulate American culture and values abroad.

If the U.S. is to continue to be the place everyone comes to for education, work and lifestyle, then it will have to proactively change others’ views of the country and its people. This will require effective international public relations on a scope that transcends the private sector.