2015 was a tumultuous year for countries and it appears that all the negative events that happened last year – whether accidents, corruption or acts of terrorism – have had its mark on the way people perceive countries. Our 2016 Country RepTrak® study shows that there is a general decline in trust in countries. This is especially true when it comes to safety many countries are falling behind in tourist attraction and investors are looking for safer places to place their bets.
At the same time, we know that people in the future will travel more than they do today and foreign direct investments into countries will increase. Countries are investing in their reputation among key stakeholders like never before, ensuring that they don’t lose their current and new market share to the competition. Just as companies do, countries are building compelling and relevant brands that attract tourists, investors, students, workers, businesses and consumers.
Earlier this year we studied the reputation of the 55 largest countries in the world among G8 consumers. It appears that Sweden and Canada are not just rivals on the ice – they are also rivals when it comes to being the most reputed country in the world. What does Sweden do so well to win the race in 2016? Sweden has done an excellent job at focusing on all the things that drive a country’s reputation– it has an advanced economy, an effective government and an appealing environment. On attributes such as being a safe place to invest and visit or being a friendly and welcoming place, Sweden has won the hearts of consumers globally. Additionally, Sweden has done an excellent job at working with “corporate Sweden” (IKEA, H&M etc.) to promote Sweden as a brand as well as a country. Sweden has created a nation brand team that has the mandate to profile Sweden. It consists of representatives of various different teams including FDI, tourism, Stockholm, export etc.
Brand & Reputation Management Approach: The approach to managing brand and reputation is similar to what a company would apply.
SAFETY – the big issue for the future: Safety, a key driver of country reputation, is also the attribute that in which countries saw the biggest drop. If you are not a safe country, people won’t visit or invest. There are many examples from 2015 that speak to safety issues including corruption in Brazil, clashes near the Syrian border between Turkish nationalists and Kurds. Russia and Turkey’s dispute and i the terrible terrorist attacks in Istanbul in 2016 only added to the reputation challenge of the country. Belgium’s safety also suffered from what was said to be a passive government in regards to the hunt on the Paris terrorists as well as the attack on Brussels.