“The public impression of a country is important as a source of national pride. Invariably, people source part of their own identity from the image of their country.” ~Robert Cevero, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley

When it comes to branding, most people think of businesses as the driving force behind the concept. But did you know that every country around the world has its own branding?

The branding of entire countries is a fascinating topic because country brands extend far beyond what most people understand “branding” to be. Here at The Branding Spot, we’ve discussed how a complete brand consists of so many more brand elements than “just a logo.” Brand elements can range from marketing collateral pieces and the look and feel of a website to how a company projects itself at tradeshows, in online advertisements, and even using sounds and catchy jingles.

Countries are unique in the fact that each and every one has its own brand, whether it invests in that branding or not, not to mention the massive influence each country’s brand has on its relation to and place in the world, and the future success of the nation as a whole. Allow me to explain…

Branding For Tourism

When most people think of a country brand, they think tourism. Many countries around the world have their own unique brands developed to enhance the world’s perception of the region, to encourage travel and tourism investment revenue. (Each of our US states has a brand, too—like Texas, for example.)

A well-created tourism brand can bolster a nation’s economy, especially after a country has fallen on hard times (like Kenya). However, sometimes it’s not enough (like Greece). Increasing tourism revenue is typically a relatively high priority, especially in countries with destinations known for their natural beauty.

Check out these examples of popular country tourism brands. How many do you recognize? Which ones are your favorites? Perhaps most importantly: which of these country logos inspires you to plan a visit?

More Than a Logo

You might say that a particular country’s brand IS a blend of the rest of the world’s perception of that country and that country’s investment in the future of its people. The same “you are what you’re perceived to be” concept can be applied to businesses, too, of course—but countries are unique in their massive, overreaching influence on how people live their everyday lives.

Each country has its own unique political implications, cultural traditions, legal and ethical issues, and humanitarian pursuits—all factors that blend together geographically, influencing important decisions and decision-makers worldwide. These country properties and aspects determine where businesses begin, thrive and end, where and how people raise their children, when and how we travel place to place, and the amount of financial investment in products and services from at home and abroad.

So you can see how important a nation’s branding can be!

Top Ten Country Brands (2012-2013)

According to this year’s incredibly in-depth Country Brand Index report from Future Brand, here are the top ten country brands across the world:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Canada
  3. Japan
  4. Sweden
  5. New Zealand
  6. Australia
  7. Germany
  8. United States
  9. Finland
  10. Norway

These results are the product of tons of research and polling on factors including value system, quality of life, good for business, heritage and culture, and tourism. I definitely recommend you read the full report here: Future Brand Country Brand Index (PDF).

(I find it interesting that Australia is the home of some of the most dangerous creatures on Earth, but has made it on the top 10 best country brands.)

Do you agree with these results? Which countries would make your top ten list? Leave a comment below!