Argyle Public Relationships

What makes a nation great? Reputation study provides answers

By Daniel Tisch

/ Posted in Reputation

As Canada and the U.S. celebrate national holidays, survey shows what drives national brands


This week, the Reputation Institute and Argyle Public Relationships unveiled the annual Country RepTrak study — the world’s largest survey of country reputations — providing a revealing look at the connection between a nation’s external reputation and the supportive behaviours that help to drive its economy. As they celebrate their country’s 150th birthday, Canadians can take pride in the results — with a reputation that leads the world.


RepTrak Country Ranking Top 20 Visualization

2017 Country Reptrak


What factors drive strong national reputations? A few findings stand out:


  • Three factors drive national reputations: 37.9% comes from perceptions of its environment (e.g., welcoming people, beauty, lifestyle,); 37% from its governance (e.g., public safety, ethics, international responsibility, social and economic policies); and 25.1% from the nation’s economy (e.g., educated and reliable workforce, contributions to global culture, high-quality products and services).
  • The strongest national brands focus on all three dimensions: Of the seven nations with ‘excellent’ rankings (over 80 out of 100), Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland are seen as global leaders in all three categories, while Australia and New Zealand’s reputations are powered by leadership in the ‘environment’ and ‘governance’ categories.


Reptrak 2017 methodology

  • Strong reputations correlate strongly to economic behaviours: Respondents who perceive a country as having a strong reputation are more likely to visit it for business or leisure, or to recommend living in, working in, investing in, studying in or buying products from that country. For example, a one-point increase in a country’s reputation in a particular market correlates with a 3.1% increase in visitors from that market, and a 1.7% increase in exports to that market.
  • Many emerging economies are gradually growing their global reputations: For example, while China still has a weak reputation, driven largely by poor governance, it is rising in every dimension but one: ethics. China’s most notable areas of rising strength are in perceptions of its technology, brands and business environment. If it can reduce corruption and be seen as a better global citizen, China’s reputational rise should accelerate.
  • Reputation is both internal and external — and big gaps mean big blind spots. For example, Russia has the second-highest self-image in the world, with a rating of 81.1 from its own citizens, compared with one of the worst reputations (40.3) in the eyes of the rest of the world — a gap of 40.8 points. The U.S. has the second-largest gap: an internal reputation of 78, which is 23.4 points above its external reputation. In the U.K., after last year’s fateful Brexit vote, the nation’s self-image rose, while its external image dropped, most dramatically among potential investors. Since a strong country brand comes from countless actors — including institutions, businesses and ordinary citizens — the inability to be self-critical is a major risk.


Canadians and Americans: A more balanced relationship in the Trump era?

For most of the last century, Canada and the U.S. have had very different self-images, with the northern nation lacking the self-confidence of its powerful southern neighbour.


The study reveals an interesting evolution: Canadians now have the highest self-image of any country in our assessments of our own environment, governance and economy. While the rest of the world seems to agree right now, Canadians must avoid complacency and retain the capacity for healthy self-reflection, particularly in ensuring a competitive environment for business.


RepTrack Country Ranking Self Assessment

While Americans retain a healthy self-image — one that is well-earned by the nation’s history and its renowned companies, products and brands — the rapid deterioration in its global reputation in the last year (the largest drop of any country in the world) should be cause for concern.


Fortunately for the U.S., respondents’ ratings of the country’s brands, technology, culture, products and services remain strong, even as perceptions of its governance have plunged. The need for international marketing of these assets has never been greater.


Strengths and weaknessess of the reputation of the united states of america after the election of President Donald Trump

The context behind last year’s U.S. presidential election was an internal debate about the nation’s greatness: whether its global status was rising or falling, and whether America’s economic self-interest would be best served by globalization and engaged multilateralism or nativism, protectionism and unilateralism.


While this debate continues in America, the Reputation Institute study shows that great nations are those seen as great global citizens. And in a multi-polar world in which talent is more mobile than ever, building a strong economy is much easier if you have a strong reputation.


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