Ireland’s nation brand continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the world, rising 26% in value year on year to US$538 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands report. Jumping six places in the ranking, Ireland has broken into the top 30, growing faster than the USA, China or the UK. This can be explained by a combination of factors including the continued growth of the Irish economy over the last five years and a renewed appeal as a location for domestic and inbound investment, given that Ireland will be the only English-speaking nation in the EU following Brexit.

Simon Haigh, Managing Director of Brand Finance Ireland, commented:

“Despite US tax reductions, discussions on EU corporate tax harmonisation, and the vagaries of Brexit deal negotiations, Brand Ireland proves ever more appealing. Many financial and corporate entities established in the UK continue to head to Dublin to ensure the preservation of EU passporting rights after Brexit. Investors from other jurisdictions including China, Australia, and the USA are also continuing to choose Ireland as it remains an attractive location for brands and IP companies.”

Topping the table as the world’s most valuable nation brand, the USA’s brand value has gone up 23% over the past year to US$25.9 trillion.

The US economy has expanded at a speedy pace with growth expected to continue in the months to come. Alongside the GDP, also consumer sales, construction orders, car output and other indicators of growth have each seen an increase – proving the US economy truly is booming.

In addition, thanks to the falling tax rates, which have created a more business-friendly environment, the USA’s Brand Strength Index (BSI) score has improved from 83.8 in 2017 to 85.6 out of 100 this year. As a result, America’s brand rating has been upgraded from AAA- to AAA, and the brand value leader has also moved up the brand strength ranking, replacing Sweden as the 8th strongest nation brand in the world.
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“As Donald Trump approaches the start of his third year at the White House, in the longer run, negative perceptions of his personal brand have turned out to have little impact on the nation brand as a whole. Rather, the new free-market policies have resonated with business leaders and the economy is growing, driving an improvement in America’s brand strength and brand value alike.”

China maintains its spot as the second most valuable nation brand, with brand value up 25% to US$12.8 trillion. China performs well despite the prospects of a protracted trade war with the US, displaying the established robustness of the Chinese economy. This rise in brand value is also a credit to booming cities like Beijing and Shanghai, for their world-class infrastructure and well-educated workforce, which make them some of the world’s best places to do business.

Whilst China’s brand strength remains relatively low at 73.5, it has grown faster than for any other big nation brand, with whole two points added to the country’s Brand Strength Index (BSI) score over the past year. The improvement comes as China steps up its role on the global stage, championing free trade and leading the efforts to combat climate change at a time when the USA is turning towards protectionism and prioritising own interests over a collaborative energy policy.

Recent years have also seen China shift focus from commoditised production to building world-class brands, such as Huawei and Alibaba, whose success in turn reinforces the strength of the nation brand.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented
“The rise of China’s nation brand is down to global leadership, pro-business outlook, and a steely determination for the country to create brands rather than just products. The current government’s renewed commitment towards free trade, opening up of the Chinese market, and enhancing protection of intellectual property will make for a yet improved business environment in the years to come.”

The fastest-growing brand in the top 50 of the Brand Finance Nation Brands 2018, Germany has seen a 28% brand value jump to US$5.1 trillion over the past year. This has solidified the country’s position as Europe’s most valuable nation brand and the world’s third. Following strong growth, Germany has more than doubled the lead over the fourth brand in the table, from US$582 billion in 2017 to US$1.4 trillion this year. Reinforced by the country’s status as the leading force in the European Union and its growing global role both economically and at the political negotiating table, Germany’s brand strength has also improved, leading to a lift in brand rating from AAA- to AAA.

Perceived vulnerability undermines Britain’s standing on the global stage, reflected in the nation brand’s strength falling slightly since last year, from 85.3 to 84.8, but a healthy economy and positive growth forecasts show Britain’s resilience in the face of Brexit. The UK’s nation brand has recorded a solid 20% growth year on year to US$3.8 trillion, replacing Japan in fourth place.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Britain’s performance in this year’s study of the world’s nation brands shows that perceptions of Brexit go against the economic reality. What the exact scenario and consequences of exiting the EU will be still remains to be seen, but both current market conditions and economic forecasts for the coming years reaffirm Britain’s ability to make the most of its post-Brexit future.”

The ongoing economic crisis alongside the fall in value of the lira have seen Turkey’s brand value decline by one third to US$382 billion from US$570 billion last year. Turbulent political times in the wider region, such as the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq, have also played a part. The mission ahead is to nurture global Turkish brands, such as the national carrier Turkish Airlines, which has shown a promising rise in its brand value since last year, up 6% to over US$2.0 billion.

Six out of ten fastest-growing nation brands this year are from Africa. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana have all recorded outstanding growth between 28% and 38% year on year.
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Starting from a low economic base and still troubled by political instability, Africa is nonetheless beginning to demonstrate its true potential. Following in the footsteps of Asian tigers with remarkable advances in this year’s ranking, African lions are the future of global economic growth.”

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of nation brands, determined by performance on dozens of data points across three key pillars: Goods & Services, Investment and Society.

According to these criteria, Singapore has claimed the title of the world’s strongest nation brand once again this year, earning the elite AAA+ rating and a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 92.4 out of 100. A strong nation brand denotes a highly attractive environment for investment and Singapore has carved a global reputation for itself as a well-educated nation with a high quality of life. Singapore is also the recognised technology hub in Asia – where most of the sector’s companies have their headquarters and where Facebook has just announced plans to open its new data centre in 2022. Whilst also boasting a good infrastructure, the Asia Pacific powerhouse is ideally positioned for connections with China, Hong Kong and Australia.

Every year, valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest nation brands.
2018 brand values are calculated in USD with a valuation date of 1st July 2018. Further information can be found here.

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