USA becomes top nation brand – lessons for Sri Lanka 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

EU lifting ban on SL fish will generate 16 b

Nation brand building intrigues me given that Sri Lanka is building bridges once again and the recent award of EU exports of fish from Sri Lanka is testimony that Sri Lanka’s efforts of nation brand building are working. However, a point to note is that the best practice from the number one brand can be a lesson for Sri Lanka.

BUP_DFTDFT-14Donald Trump’s tantrums on the campaign stage are sure to affect ‘Brand USA’


How brand USA performed

After being pushed out of the number one spot last year by Germany, the United States has taken back its position at the top of the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands IndexSM with the United Kingdom taking the third place, France in fourth.

The objectives of the study is to measure the global perceptions of 50 developed and developing countries asking questions about 23 different national attributes, which are then combined into six overall “dimensions” on which the national image is based. Those dimensions are exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment.

Professor Simon Anhalt, a person for whom I have a lot of respect, the independent policy advisor who created the Nation Brands Index, comments: “This year’s results stand as a reminder that although the images of countries are incredibly stable, changes can and do take place, particularly when people around the world sense that countries are contributing noticeably more or less to humanity and the planet. It’s their perceived impact on the world that affects countries’ reputation far more than their assets or achievements. Despite its continued perceived leadership in Europe, Germany has fallen back to second place, largely as a result of BUP_DFTDFT-14-ROHANTHAlosing the gains it made last year. On top of that, Germany also lost ground on ‘governance’ (which incorporates both international and domestic behaviours) following its high-profile stance on European challenges such as immigration and struggling Eurozone economies. In particular, Russia’s perceptions of Germany’s governance dropped significantly, following Germany’s support of anti-Russian sanctions.”

The above are interesting thoughts given that we can see how Sri Lanka’s brand ratings have increased due the strong connectivity drive of the current government.

Brand USA using the nation brand model

In this backdrop if we do a deep dive in how brand USA focuses on building their nation brand it is a good case in point for Sri Lanka which is also pushing the same agenda.

1) Tourism

It’s strange but domestic tourism is at full pace due to the elections in the US. Whenever a primary campaign is done in a particular state there is a surge in arrivals into the city and the overall media blitz on TV is creating a very strong global push on the share of voice. It is interesting to see how the tourism campaign ‘Brand USA’ will either be continued or will be overhauled with the new president when he comes to play in 2016 November. 

2) Export

The US is known as global competitive supplier of many of the goods and services, reached by a rapidly developing economy. Though GDP increases in the USA annually, the rate of growth is lower year by year, threatening the down rating of the economy and the brand equity. Exports of the USA touching a three trillion is a stronger performance and connectivity to the world. It will be interesting to see how the FB issue on the internet space will have a negative impact to brand USA from the export end. 

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational software corporation and it develops, manufactures, licenses and supports a wide range of products and services related to computing. The company was founded by Bill Gates in 1975. Microsoft is considered as the world’s largest software maker measured by revenues. It is also one of the world’s most valuable companies contributing to the brand value of the USA.

3) Governance

The USA’s brand equity is largely affected with the continuous war initiated after the 11 September 2001 attack. Expenditure of one trillion dollars has been incurred during the post 9/11 war period for Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries like Libya. 

Operation ‘Enduring freedom’ in Afghanistan cost $ 321 billion dollars. The impact of the cost of war as a percentage of GDP was 0.7% in the peak period and as a percentage of total defence expenses, 4.9%. It will interesting to see the impact on the new push in the Middle East due ISIS will have on the overall orb and index.

4) Culture

The nation of America consists of people who came from many different homelands. They are white, black or African, Indian, Alaska native, native Hawaii and Pacific Islander belongs to six main races. It is indeed a variety of customs, traditions and foods while they do share many of the same values and their citizens care about individual freedom, equal opportunities, fair treatment of people regardless of differences private ownership of property, and education.

More than 70% of Americans are members of religious groups. The international popularity of American music is an example of the globalisation of culture. The united nature of the all-cultural group is uplifting the brand equity of the USA.

5) People

Human development is defined as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their wellbeing. Human development is about the real freedom of ordinary people to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live. The Human Development Index is continuously growing in the USA, which shows that the nation is more concerned about the people’s education, health and living standards. 

Implications to Sri Lanka 

Hence we see how the number one brand, USA, works right across the nation brand building model to become the strongest brand in the world. May be Sri Lanka needs to take a cue and develop a focussed strategy across the spectrum given the triumph on the EU fish ban been lifted with a strong push on all fronts.


(The writer is a multiple award winning marketer and business leader. The thoughts expressed are his personal observations and not the views of any organisation he serves. He can be contacted on