Two-Thirds of Nations Experience Reputation Decline in 2012 Nation Brands Index

·         Top 10 Nations Retain Appeal, and US Holds No. 1 Position

·         Developing Countries Narrow Reputation Gap with the West, with Notable Gains from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Kenya, and Poland

NEW YORK, October 23, 2012 – The world’s most highly regarded countries continue to lead in global image, but the troubled world economy has also left its mark, with two-thirds of measured nations suffering declines in their reputation over the past year.

These are among the results from the 2012 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM (NBI), an annual global survey from GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, a division of GfK, and leading policy advisor Simon Anholt.  This year’s NBISM, which measures the image of 50 countries, shows the United States holding the top spot for the fourth year in a row as the nation with the best overall reputation.

Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM
Overall Brand Ranking (Top 10 of 50 Nations) 

2012 NBI Rank



2012 NBI Score


Score Difference


United States (1)




Germany (2)




United Kingdom (3)




France (4)




Canada (6)




Japan (5)




Italy (7)




Switzerland (9)




Australia (8)




Sweden (10)



Source: 2012 and 2011 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM

2011 rankings are shown in parentheses

"While the top nations retain their high ranks, in a year of continued economic, social, environmental and political challenges, ordinary people around the world seem less impressed by other people’s countries than they were in 2011,” said Simon Anholt, NBI founder and an independent advisor to over 50 heads of state and heads of government around the world.  "When it comes to the NBI scores, two-thirds of the nations have experienced declines of varying degrees this year. With a few exceptions, developed nations, ranking among the top-20, have registered some of the biggest score losses. Japan and Spain, mired in their respective economic malaise, have experienced the greatest score decline. Put simply, the world likes the world a bit less than it did last year.”  

Across the board, most of the developed nations have seen their reputations dented, including Germany and France. 

The 2012 NBI survey was conducted from July 5th to July 24th in 20 major developed and developing countries that play important and diverse roles in international relations, trade, and the flow of business, cultural and tourism activities.  A total of 20,378 respondents rated 50 nations on questions in six categories: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment. The overall NBI ranking is based on the average of these six scores.   

"Confirming a gradual ‘gap-narrowing’ trend we noted in previous surveys, most nations ranking in the top-half have seen score declines, with notable downward movement for several of the most admired countries,” said Xiaoyan Zhao, Senior Vice President and Director of the NBI study at GfK.  "Reputation have-nots continue to close the gap. In fact, the United States is the only country within the top-10 with an increased overall NBI score, as it retains its 1st place position held since 2009.”

Most score gainers in 2012 have come from the emerging countries, with the highest gains for the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Kenya, and Poland.  "Most developing countries do not have well-rounded reputations, and their current rankings are relatively low among the 50 nations, so notable gains in specific areas boost their overall performance,” said Zhao, "Leading nations still command high admiration, and when they don’t deliver, their reputation is more easily dented.”  

The study also asked respondents what they admire most about a country.  The top 5 attributes globally are: "democratic, open, and treats its citizens fairly”; "good quality of life and work/life balance”; "respects nature and keeps a clean environment”; "safe and orderly society with well-behaved people”; and "people are warm and friendly.” 

For more information on the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI) and Anholt-GfK Roper City Brands IndexSM (CBI), please visit or

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