Ranked: The Most Valuable Nation Brands in 2020
The Most Valuable Nation Brands in 2020
In today’s heavily interconnected world, a country’s reputation can have a big impact on its overall economic prosperity.
In fact, a country’s reputation—its brand—is arguably one of its most important assets. A strong nation brand has the power to boost tourism, attract and retain talent, and potentially bring in foreign investment.
This graphic uses data from Brand Finance’s Nation Brands 2020 report, which attempts to quantify the reputations of different countries around the world. We’ll also dive into the top 10 nation brands, and how their brand value has changed over time.
How is Nation Brand Value Quantified?
While the report provides a full explanation of its methodology, here’s a quick summary of how the scoring system works.
First, Brand Finance calculates a country’s Brand Strength Index (BSI) score using three pillars:
- Goods & Services
Openness to tourism, market size, and trade rules
Quality of life, corruption, and cultural image
Talent retention, use of technology, R&D, taxation, and regulation
From there, the BSI score is used to calculate a hypothetical royalty rate, and applied to a country’s GDP. Then, a discount rate is factored in to account for economic risk. Finally, numbers are crunched to provide the “Brand Value” of a country.
The Top 10 Most Valuable Nation Brands
In this year’s report, Brand Finance highlights the impact COVID-19 has had on nation brand values—in 2020, the top 10 nation brands have seen a 14% drop in brand value, on average.
Here are the most valuable nation brands of 2020, and their change in value since last year:
|Rank||Country||2020 Value (USD, $T)||Change since 2019|
|1||🇺🇸 United States||$23.7||-14.5%|
|5||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||$3.3||-13.9%|
|10||🇰🇷 South Korea||$1.7||-20.6%|
Despite a 14.5% decrease in value, the U.S. managed to maintain its top position with a nation brand value of $23.7 trillion.
Like many other countries, 2020 has been a tough year for America. From recording the most COVID-19 cases and deaths to dealing with a controversial presidential election, the economic powerhouse faced a tremendous amount of international scrutiny this year.
Despite all this, the United States remains one of the most successful and dominant economies worldwide—the only close competitor is China, with a nation brand value of $18.8 trillion.
Over the Years: China’s Steady Climb
While China still ranks below the U.S. in total brand value, its percentage decrease from last year was far lower than the other nations on the list. China stayed relatively stable with a modest 4% drop, about 10 percentage points less than the global average.
China’s stability this year is nothing new. In fact, the country has been steadily closing the brand value gap between itself and the U.S. since 2015:
This year marks the smallest gap yet, with just a $4.9 trillion brand value difference between the U.S. and China. This is significantly lower than in previous years—for instance, in 2015 the U.S. had a $13.1 trillion lead over China.
Will America make a comeback in 2021 under a new administration, or will the gap between it and China close even further?
Just 20 Stocks Have Driven S&P 500 Returns So Far in 2023
From Apple to NVIDIA, megacap stocks are fueling S&P 500 returns. The majority of these firms are also investing heavily in AI.
Just 20 Stocks Have Driven Most of S&P 500 Returns
Just 20 firms—mainly AI-related stocks—are propping up the S&P 500 and driving it into positive territory, signaling growing risk in the market.
The above graphic from Truman Du shows which stocks are making up the vast majority of S&P 500 returns amid AI market euphoria and broader market headwinds.
Big Tech Stock Rally
Tech and AI stocks have soared as ChatGPT became a household name in 2023.
The below table shows data from last month, highlighting that just a small collection of companies drove most of the action on the U.S. benchmark index.
|Company Rank||Name||Contribution to S&P 500 Return||Average Weight|
|7||Alphabet (Class A Shares)||0.34%||1.72%|
|8||Alphabet (Class C Shares)||0.31%||1.53%|
|10||Advanced Micro Devices||0.16%||0.39%|
|Top 20 Companies||7.05%||29.17%|
*Based on the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF as of April 11, 2023. Source: Vanguard S&P500 ETF, Bloomberg.
Microsoft invested $10 billion into OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT. It has also integrated generative AI into its search engine Bing. This large language model is designed specifically to make search capabilities faster, generate text, and perform other automations.
Also of interest is NVIDIA, which is the most valuable chipmaker in America. It sells $10,000 chips called A100s that allow machine learning models to run. These models perform multiple tasks simultaneously to develop neural networks and train AI systems, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Companies that are developing AI-related services, such as chatbots or image generation, may use up to thousands of these chips.
Despite being the world’s most valuable company and a key driver of returns, Apple is an outlier among tech giants with no major projects announced in AI (so far).
Implications of Market Divergence
The problem with the strong gains seen in a few select AI-related stocks is that it clouds wider stock market performance.
Without the AI-led rally, the S&P 500 would be returning -1.4%. as of May 17, 2023.
4. AI is fueling the stock market
A handful of stocks are spearheading the S&P 500's impressive 9% rally this year.
Here’s the kicker: if you excluded AI stocks, the S&P 500 would be down over 1% (according to Societe Generale). pic.twitter.com/SME1mJVpoW
— Rowan Cheung (@rowancheung) May 22, 2023
This form of steep divergence, known as market breadth, often signals higher risk in the market.
When more companies experience positive returns it is less risky than a small handful seeing the majority of the gains. Today market breadth is very narrow, and these companies make up over 29% of the entire index’s market capitalization.
How long AI-related firms mask the broader performance of the S&P 500 remains to be seen. A growing number of market pressures, from higher interest rates to banking uncertainty could add further challenges.
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