Country and city branding is nothing new. The phrase “When in Rome” is believed to have been coined in the fourth century by Saint Ambrose. He said “Romanum venio”, translating to “When I go to Rome…” This phrase has continued to symbolize the joys and indulgences of this ancient city, a branding strategy and promise still significant centuries later. .
Las Vegas’ 2003 “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign, which spanned more than a decade, successfully celebrated the indulgences of Vegas, known for its nightlife, bachelor parties, gambling chance and much more. The Hollywood representation of Las Vegas further reinforces the city’s clear and captivating brand positioning.
Like cities, countries have brands to manage. They have equity, meaning and influence. These perceptions of countries affect everything from tourism to business and exports. In the 2022 Best Countries study, which surveyed more than 17,000 global citizens, we find that America’s brand equity remains among the strongest in the world, with the nation ranking 4th out of 85 countries measured this year. . Globally, the United States ranks first in the sub-rankings of entrepreneurship, power, and agility, all indicative of America’s spirit of innovation and global expectations for leadership.
The net result of America’s collectively strong equity is the desire, appeal and credibility it creates. Globally, the United States is among the top countries people want to visit – 89.7% of respondents said they would like to go there. Compare that to China, at 62.7%, and the United Arab Emirates, at 58%. It’s amazing how the power and promise of the America brand resonates around the world, transcending political, religious and other affiliations.
America’s cultural influence is a driving force that can be more powerful than traditional hard power assets such as military might and leadership. The brands and entertainment a country exports have a profound impact on how the nation is perceived, reinforcing truths and archetypes. Brands have the potential to infiltrate other cultures, influencing perceptions of nations beyond politics. From the Beatles to Marvel to Tesla, brands can shape the way we view countries.
The United States remains one of the most culturally influential nations, second only to historically more fashionable Italy and France. America’s cultural influence is consistent globally, even ranking among the top three culturally influential nations among the Chinese, and second to India and Britain.
What drives US influence is obvious. Among respondents to the Top Countries survey, America ranks fourth for the term “trendy” and third for the terms “trendy” and “entertainment.” Most pronounced is the power of American consumer brands, where the United States ranks first. The world prefers to buy products and brands made in America more than any other country. Globally, 78% of respondents to the Best Country survey agree that the country in which a product is made matters. Of those same respondents, 83% say consumer brands play an important role in defining a country’s culture. Closer to home, 80% of Americans prefer to buy American brands. Branding is therefore a national responsibility.
Although the United States does not lead in all consumption sectors, it is among the best in many of the most essential. The United States ranks second behind Germany for beer, for example, and third behind Germany and France for spirits, according to the Best Countries survey. The country also ranks second in clothing and apparel; beauty products; medications; and automobiles, where it follows Germany. Notably, the United States ranks first in technology and financial services.
The brands that we create and export have the power to acculturate in the countries where they enter. The withdrawal of McDonald’s from Russia in May 2022 had perhaps a greater impact on the daily lives of the inhabitants than most of the sanctions imposed on the country – a part of the United States had become part of its culture. American tech-focused brands are among the most influential in the world, with Apple, Uber and Google among the most culturally absorbed brands in the world. In 2019, approximately 1 billion people used more than 1.4 billion Apple products. In BrandAsset Valuator (BAV), WPP’s global brand equity study, Apple is among the world’s most influential brands, driven by innovation and performance, attributes that rub off on the American brand.
When it comes to clothing, Levi’s and Nike transcend America in their symbolism and impact. Similarly, Ford and Tesla are shaping the worldview of transportation.
Finally, we can’t ignore the massive global influence of American entertainment, both from the content created here and the entertainment technology the world uses to seamlessly access it. The Disney brand ranks among the top 1% of most valued brands in our Brand Equity study, where its powerful storytelling, theme parks and relatively new Disney+ streaming offering bring American imagery to the rest of the world.
Netflix is another American brand that wields American cultural influence, bringing entertainment within reach around the world. In Q2 2022, Netflix reported approximately 220 million paid subscribers worldwide, helping to transform the way the world consumes entertainment. In 2013, Netflix was the first streaming platform to win an Emmy for its original content. This year, he has won 26. But the influence works both ways. In September, “Squid Game” star Lee Jung-Jae became the first Asian star to win the Emmy for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama and the first to win it for a non-English speaking role. Asian influence on America.
While Brand America is truly a cultural powerhouse, we shouldn’t let it go to our heads. When it comes to brand status, only two US brands are in the global top 10, according to BAV. American brands Tiffany & Co. and The Ritz-Carlton are among the strongest, but they are overtaken by some European brands. For example, Italian luxury fashion company Versace tops the list globally, while Mercedes-Benz, Prada, Ferrari and Gucci are also among the most prestigious in the world.
Obviously, brands have power and influence over nations. The rise of targeted branding and the advocacy created by it is just one example of this influence. Consumers expect more from brands today. Countries need to consider the value and influence of their brands beyond sales.
While we cannot ignore the commercial importance of branding, we need to think about the broader influence that brands create on a country and a society. Perhaps the recent news of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard donating his company to fight climate change is just the start of even greater brand influence to come.