Canada is again the country with the world’s best reputation according to Reputation Institute’s 2013 Country RepTrak Study, which surveys more than 27,000 people from the G8 countries. The win marks the third year in a row that the North American nation has been ranked first.
“Canada’s results confirm that it is only possible to maintain a strong reputation in the long-term when a country has the ability to transmit its leadership globally in each of the three key criteria: an effective government, an advanced economy, and an appealing environment,” says Fernando Prado, managing partner of Reputation Institute, which conducts the survey.
The study measures the reputation of 50 countries based on levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect, as well as perceptions regarding 16 attributes that include it being viewed as: a safe place to visit, a beautiful country, having friendly and welcoming residents, having progressive social and economic policies, being run by an effective government, and more.
Along with Canada, which received a score of 76.6 on a 100-point scale, the top five countries include: Sweden (76.5, up from third place in 2012), Switzerland (76.3, also up one notch from last year’s fourth place ranking), Australia (76.1, down from second place), and Norway (74.1 points). At the opposite pole are Russia (36.7), Nigeria (34.0), Pakistan (28.8), Iran (22.6), and Iraq (21.2).
This study confirms the ascent of reputation among emerging countries: Singapore, Taiwan, Peru, Brazil, South Korea, Poland and the Ukraine together have an average growth from 2009-2013 of 5.3 points. Those results illustrate the traits that respondents most value when assessing nations, including political stability, having high standards of living, and the absence of major income inequalities, which are all common characteristics of the top five aforementioned countries.
Economic power, however, does not appear to be the most important factor in evaluating reputation, as none of the three largest economies appear in the top 10. The US ranked 22nd, China placed 44th, while Japan fared the best at 14th. (The US country ranking continues to improve under the Obama administration, with a 3.6-point increase: 57.4 this year compared to 53.9 in 2012.)
According to Nicolas Georges Trad, executive partner at the Reputation Institute, “To achieve a strong reputation it is crucial to manage the reality and the perception of a varied group of attributes, which refer not only to economic factors, but also to political, social, and cultural aspects. A balance of these variables is what gives personality to a country as well as the competitiveness to attract tourists, talent, and investments at more favorable conditions than other countries with lesser reputations.”
Countries that enjoy a strong reputation are able to finance themselves in the international markets at a lower cost than countries with a weak reputation. Reputation can act as a shield against large swings in interest rates and during adverse economic cycles. Countries with good reputations have maintained a stable risk premium since the beginning of the financial crisis, whereas countries with poor reputations have seen their risk premiums rise by up to 300 percent.