This article was originally published in the Global Soft Power Index 2022.
Brand Finance Plc has been measuring the strength and value of nation brands since 2004. In 2019, we decided to commission original research to better understand the Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence of nations and the extent to which soft power impacts these measures – the Global Soft Power Index.
Brand Finance defines soft power as “a nation’s ability to influence the preferences and behaviours of various actors in the international arena (states, corporations, communities, publics etc.) through attraction or persuasion rather than coercion”.
The third wave of our global research provides deep insight into the views of 100,000 stakeholders on 120 nation brands. This report summarises the results of fieldwork conducted in the autumn of 2021, and the opinions of various experts on aspects of soft power. The majority of these perceptions hold true today.
However, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine we anticipate significant changes to underlying stakeholder opinions of those two nations, and have commissioned a specific additional piece of research to explore this change to the three-year trend data. At the time of writing, this ancillary research is still in field and has not been included in this report. We anticipate being able to share its findings at the Global Soft Power Summit 2022.
According to Professor Joseph Nye, power is ‘’the ability to influence the behaviour of others to get the outcomes you want’’; you can coerce them with military threats (hard power); you can induce them with economic pressures (also hard power); or you can attract and co-opt them to want what you want (soft power).
The current tragic events in Ukraine sadly illustrate all three types of power. Russia seems to believe military hard power alone will achieve its objectives, but is being thwarted by heroic resistance from a much weaker military force. The rest of the world believes economic hard power will make Russia change course and withdraw, and it may eventually be right. Meanwhile, Ukraine is providing a masterclass in the use of soft power to galvanise global opinion, using conventional and social media to win the argument. Political pundits say that the only nation with the ability to stop the conflict is now China, by using its soft power leverage on Russia.
I sincerely hope that soft power does provide the solution to this global disaster. Our 21st century world needs multi-lateral co-operation, not a spiral down into the failed hard power politics experienced during most of the 19th and 20th centuries.
To show our belief in soft power, we are actively backing an initiative called Brand Solidarity. Brand Solidarity has been formed to bring brands together to express a chorus of support for the people of Ukraine and contribute to the push for peace.
Participating brands from around the globe are displaying the Brand Solidarity logo on any marketing items (from emails to websites, from advertising to packaging). All brands of any type and size are welcome to participate. For more information, please contact us or email [email protected].
I am honoured to have been invited to become a Patron of Brand Solidarity alongside Anthea Turner (TV Presenter); Brent Hoberman (Chair, Founders Forum); Sir John Hegarty (Founder and Creative Director, The Garage Soho); Simon Woodroffe (Founder, YO! Company); Sophie Devonshire (Author and CEO, The Marketing Society), and Trevor Beattie (Filmmaker), among others.
We look forward to many more brands and organisations joining Brand Solidarity, and hope that ultimately soft power will prevail.