Ranked: The World's Most Valuable Nation Brands in 2020
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Ranked: The Most Valuable Nation Brands in 2020

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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:

  1. Goods & Services
    Openness to tourism, market size, and trade rules
  2. Society
    Quality of life, corruption, and cultural image
  3. Investment
    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:

RankCountry2020 Value (USD, $T)Change since 2019
1🇺🇸 United States$23.7-14.5%
2🇨🇳 China$18.8-3.7%
3🇯🇵 Japan$4.3-6.0%
4🇩🇪 Germany$3.8-21.5%
5🇬🇧 United Kingdom$3.3-13.9%
6🇫🇷 France$2.7-12.8%
7🇮🇳 India$2.0-20.8%
8🇨🇦 Canada$1.9-13.0%
9🇮🇹 Italy$1.8-15.8%
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:

Nation Brand Value Over Time
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?

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Technology

Saying Bye to Facebook: Why Companies Change Their Name

Facebook’s impending rebrand will impact the company’s future. Why do companies change their name, and what can we learn from past examples?

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As anyone who’s started a company knows, choosing a name is no easy task.

There are many considerations, such as:

  • Are the social handles and domain name available?
  • Is there a competitor already using a similar name?
  • Can people spell, pronounce, and remember the name?
  • Are there cultural or symbolic interpretations that could be problematic?

The list goes on. These considerations are amplified when a company is already established, and even more difficult when your company serves billions of users around the globe.

Facebook (the parent company, not the social network) has changed its name to Meta, and we’ll examine some probable reasons for the rebrand. But first we’ll look at historical corporate name changes in recent history, exploring the various motivations behind why a company might change its name. Below are some of the categories of rebranding that stand out the most.

Social Pressure

Societal perceptions can change fast, and companies do their best to anticipate these changes in advance. Or, if they don’t change in time, their hands might get forced.

corporate name changes social pressure

As time goes on, companies with more overt negative externalities have come under pressure—particularly in the era of ESG investing. Social pressure was behind the name changes at Total and Philip Morris. In the case of the former, the switch to TotalEnergies was meant to signal the company’s shift beyond oil and gas to include renewable energy.

In some cases, the reason why companies change their name is more subtle. GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation) didn’t want to be associated with subprime lending and the subsequent multi-billion dollar bailout from the U.S. government, and a name change was one way of starting with a “clean slate”. The financial services company rebranded to Ally in 2010.

Hitting the Reset Button

Brands can become unpopular over time because of scandals, a decline in quality, or countless other reasons. When this happens, a name change can be a way of getting customers to shed those old, negative connotations.

corporate name changes restart button

Internet and TV providers rank dead last in customer satisfaction ratings, so it’s no surprise that many have changed their names in recent years.

We Do More

This is a very common scenario, particularly as companies go through a rapid expansion or find success with new product offerings. After a period of sustained growth and change, a company may find that the current name is too limiting or no longer accurately reflects what the company has become.

corporate name changes broadening the scope

Both Apple and Starbucks have simplified their company names over the years. The former dropped “Computers” from its name in 2007, and Starbucks dropped “Coffee” from its name in 2011. In both these cases, the name change meant disassociating the company with what initially made them successful, but in both cases it was a gamble that paid off.

One of the biggest name changes in recent years is the switch from Google to Alphabet. This name change signaled the company’s desire to expand beyond internet search and advertising.

The Start-Up Name Pivot

Another very common name change scenario is the early-stage name change.

start-up name change

In the world of music, there’s speculation that limited melodies and subconscious plagiarism will make creating new music increasingly difficult in the future. Similarly, there are millions of companies in the world and only so many short and snappy names. (That’s how we end up with companies called Quibi.)

Many of the popular digital services we use today started with very different names. The Google we know today was once called Backrub. Instagram began life as Bourbn, and Twitter began life as “Twittr” before finding a spare E in the scrabble pile.

Copyright Problems

As mentioned above, many companies start out as speculative experiments or passion projects, when a viable, well-vetted name isn’t high on the priority list. As a result, new companies can run into problems with copyright.

corporate name change copyright

This was the case when Picaboo, the precursor of Snapchat, was forced to change their name in 2011. The existing Picaboo—a photobook company—was not thrilled to share a name with an app that was primarily associated with sexting at the time.

The fight over the name WWF was a more unique scenario. In 1994, the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation had a mutual agreement that the latter would stop using the initials internationally, except for fleeting uses such as “WWF champion”. In the end though, the agreement was largely ignored, and the issue became a sticking point when the wrestling company registered wwf.com. Eventually, the company rebranded as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) after losing a lawsuit.

Course Correction

To err is human, and rebranding exercises don’t always hit the mark. When a name change is universally panned or, perhaps worse, not relevant, it’s time to course correct.

name changes course correction

Tribune Publishing was forced to backtrack after their name change to Tronc in 2016. The widely-panned name, which was stylized in all lower case, was seen as a clumsy attempt to become a digital-first publisher.

Why Is Facebook Changing Its Name?

Facebook undertook this name change for a number of reasons, but chief among them is that the brand is irrevocably associated with scandals, negative externalities, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Even before the most recent outage and whistle-blowing scandal, Facebook was already the least-trusted tech company by a long shot. Mark Zuckerberg was once the most admired CEO in Silicon Valley, but has since fallen from grace.

It’s easy to focus on the negative triggers for the impending name change, but there is some substance behind the change as well. For one, Facebook recognizes that privacy issues have put their primary source of revenue at risk. The company’s ad-driven model built upon its users’ data is coming under increasing scrutiny with each passing year.

As well, there is substance behind the metaverse hype. Facebook first signaled their ambitions in 2014, when it acquired the virtual reality headset maker Oculus. A sizable portion of the company’s workforce is already working on making the metaverse concept a reality, and there are plans to hire 10,000 more people in Europe over the next five years.

It remains to be seen whether this immense gamble pays off, but for the near future, Zuckerberg and Facebook’s investors will be keeping a close eye on how the media and public react to the new Meta name and how the transition plays out. After all, there are billions of dollars at stake.

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Visualizing Social Risk in the World’s Top Investment Hubs

In a third of the world’s top investment hubs, citizens face significant threats to their civil, political, and labor rights.

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Social Risk

Visualizing the Social Risk of the World’s Top Investment Hubs

As social responsibility becomes an important aspect of doing business, it’s more crucial than ever for decision-makers to understand the risks associated with various global markets.

This graphic, using data from a report by Verisk Maplecroft, looks at the world’s top cities for foreign direct investment (FDI) and assesses their relative levels of social risk.

In the article below, we’ll take a look at the research methodology to explain how risk was assessed in the report and touch on some key markets that placed high on the ranking.

The Relationship Between FDI and Social Risk

To look at the relationship between FDI and social risk, the report identified the top 100 cities for FDI in 2020, using data from fDi Markets (the Financial Times’ foreign investment monitor).

From there, social risk in the top 100 FDI cities was measured using data from Verisk Maplecroft’s [email protected] Social Index​​. The index measures the social risk landscape of 575 different cities across the globe, using three key pillars:

  • Civil and political rights: the right to protest, security force abuses
  • Labor rights: child labor, modern slavery
  • Poverty: portion of population in extreme poverty

After calculating scores based on these three metrics, cities were then grouped into four categories to measure their level of social risk:

  • Low risk
  • Medium risk
  • High risk
  • Extreme risk

Based on this analysis, citizens in 33 of the top 100 cities for FDI (representing $71 billion of inward investment) are at ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ levels of social risk, meaning they face significant threats to their civil, political, and labor rights.

Of the top 100 places, Istanbul and Izmir rank the highest when it comes to overall human rights risks, largely because of labor rights violations and the exploitation of migrant and refugee workers. This is something manufacturers should take note of, especially those who outsource production to these Turkish cities.

In contrast, Beijing, which places third on the list, scores high due to China’s various civil rights issues. Other major manufacturing and commercial hubs in China, like Guangzhou and Shanghai, place high on the list as well.

Overall Social Risk Index

While a third of the top FDI cities are at high or extreme social risk, this figure is even higher when looking at all 575 cities included in the [email protected] Social Index.

social risk score of global cities

Of the 575 cities, 75% are classified as ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ risk. Mogadishu, Somalia is the highest risk city, followed by Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs in Syria, Pyongyang in North Korea, and Sanaa in Yemen.

While the high-risk cities are spread across the globe, it’s worth noting that 240 of the high and extreme risk cities are located in Asia.

Civil and Political Risk Index

In addition to the overall ranking, the report provides insight into specific human rights violations, highlighting which cities are most at risk.

civil rights risk score of global cities

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pyongyang, North Korea places first on the list when it comes to civil and political rights violations. Under the current North Korean regime, some significant civil rights violations include arbitrary arrests and detentions, the holding of political prisoners and detainees, and a lack of judicial independence.

In addition to North Korea, Syria places high on the civil rights risk index as well, with three of the top five cities located in the war-torn country.

Labor Rights Index

When focusing specifically on labor rights, almost half of the ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ risk cities are in Europe and Central Asia.

labor rights risk score of global cities

The biggest problems across a majority of ‘high’ risk cities include child labor, the exploitation of migrant workers, and modern slavery. Pakistan in particular struggles with child labor issues, with an estimated 3.3 million children in situations of forced labor.

What This Means for Foreign Investors

Understanding a country’s social landscape can help organizations make decisions on where to conduct business, especially those that prioritize ESG efforts.

And, while organizations who invest in ‘high’ risk locations aren’t directly involved in any human rights violations, being associated with a ‘high’ risk city could impact a corporation’s reputation, or cause financial damage down the line.

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