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Global Soft Power Awards: The top nation brands across all metrics 

Brand Finance
29 February 2024
Artur Bryzghalov
Place Branding Manager,
Brand Finance

In this year’s Global Soft Power Index survey, we have included a new measurement: Recommendation, for the first time. This measurement offers a new approach to evaluating Soft Power and assesses the willingness of respondents to recommend a country  as a place to ‘invest in’, ‘buy products and services from’, ‘work’ and ‘study in’, as well as ‘visit’. 

Assessing the extent to which respondents recommend a country provides valuable insights into a nation brand’s potential across the crucial areas of investment, trade, talent, and tourism. Additionally, understanding variations in perceptions across target regions and markets as well as identifying the key drivers behind respondents’ recommendations is essential to developing this potential and ultimately boosting the economy. 

The debut Global Soft Power Awards 

Building on the findings from the new Recommendation measurement, we are thrilled to introduce the inaugural Global Soft Power Awards. These accolades celebrate nations that have excelled in each Recommendation category, shedding light on their potential to attract globally. 

From analysing the survey data, we uncover valuable insights into the primary drivers behind Recommendation. Across all Recommendation dimensions, aside from the ‘Recommendation to visit’, the Business & Trade pillar is identified as the most important driver. For the tourism industry, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Culture & Heritage pillar is the most significant. Interestingly, Sustainable Future emerges as a key driver across all the dimensions too, evidencing the growing importance of engaging and communicating on environmental issues. 

Switzerland has secured the title of the ‘best country to work in’ as well as the ‘best country to invest in’. Across these two metrics, being perceived to have strong Business & Trade is the most important factor for the survey’s respondents to recommend a country. Unsurprisingly, Switzerland records a stellar performance across this pillar, scoring particularly well for having a ‘strong and stable economy’, for which it gains 10/10 marks. 

The United Kingdom earns the title of the ‘best country to study in’, underscoring its academic excellence and welcoming atmosphere for international students. Once again, the Business & Trade pillar is deemed most important for someone to ‘recommend a country to study in’, and the UK consistently scores among the top 10 globally across the attributes in this pillar. Perceptions across the Education & Science pillar, naturally, play a key role too. Perhaps most tellingly, the UK also comes out first globally for having a ‘strong educational system’. 

Italy earns the title of the ‘best country to visit’ globally, corroborated by its rich cultural heritage, renowned cuisine, and picturesque landscapes. The only Recommendation measurement in which Culture & Heritage is the most important driver – Italy tops the leaderboard globally in that pillar. Notably, Italy is perceived as having the best food in the world. 

Germany's appeal as the preferred place of origin for products and services is bolstered by its strong economy and reputation for high-quality manufacturing. Germany sits 4th in the Business & Trade pillar, scoring 10/10 marks for the ‘strong and stable economy’ metric, just like Switzerland. 


It is noteworthy that each of the winners globally hails from Europe, highlighting the region's dominance in terms of Soft Power influence.  

Regional insights 

  • Asia: Japan leads in most categories, apart from the ‘recommendation to visit’ metric, where the Maldives take prime position.  
  • Latin America & Caribbean: Brazil leads in most categories including ‘recommendation to ‘work in’, ‘invest in’, and ‘buy products and services’ from. Argentina is recognised for its appeal as a place to ‘study in’, and the Bahamas are seen as the favoured tourist destination across the region. 
  • Middle East & North Africa: The United Arab Emirates emerges as the most recommended country in the whole region, in all five metrics. Its perceptions across the key drivers in the Business & Trade pillar give the nation an advantage over peers – most notably, it receives 10/10 marks and top rank in the key ‘strong and stable economy’ attribute globally. 
  • North America: Canada surpasses the United States across all Recommendation categories. 
  • Oceania: Australia dominates all Recommendation categories for the region. 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa stands out as the preferred destination in all categories apart from tourism, led by Madagascar.  

The Soft Power Medal Table 

Delving deeper into the results, Brand Finance identifies the top-performing nations in each metric across the survey as ‘medallists’, honouring them with gold, silver, and bronze medals based on their rankings. We tally the results for all underlying measures, including five key performance indicators of Awareness, Familiarity, Reputation, Influence, and Net Positive/Negative Impact, five Recommendation measures, and 35 nation brand attributes, for a total of 45 categories. We exclude the top performers across the overall Index ranking, in average Recommendation, and across the eight top-level Soft Power Pillars, which are all derived from the 45 underlying metrics, to avoid double counting the winners in our medal table. 

United States is the Soft Power Olympic champion once again  

The United States claims the top spot once again in this year's Soft Power Olympics, earning the title of the most decorated Soft Power country. With an impressive 11 golds and a total of 17 medals, it surpasses Switzerland (10 golds, 18 medals), and Japan (5 golds, 13 medals). The US ranks 1st for Familiarity and Influence as well as nine out of the 35 nation brand attributes, including ‘leader in science’, ‘influential in arts and entertainment’, ‘internationally admired leaders’, ‘helpful to countries in need’, and ‘supports global efforts to counter climate change’. 

Norway's green commitment 

Ranked 9th in the medal table, Norway shines brightly in its dedication to environmental sustainability. Leading globally in categories such as ‘acts to protect the environment’ and ranking in the top 5 for ‘invests in green energy and technologies’ and ‘supports global efforts to counter climate change’, Norway's green initiatives underscore its Soft Power influence.

Additionally, it performs commendably in the Governance pillar, being perceived as ‘politically stable and well-governed’ while upholding ‘rule of law and human rights’. 

Exceptional performances beyond expectations 

In a showcase of Soft Power prowess beyond the usual suspects, Egypt secures the gold for its ‘rich heritage’, while Brazil emerges as a ‘leader in sports' and earns recognition for its perception as a ‘fun’ culture. Another Latin American nation, Mexico clinches the bronze for its globally beloved cuisine, following closely behind culinary giants Italy and France.  

About the Author

Brand Finance is the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy. Headquartered in the City of London, we are present in over 20 countries.

For almost 30 years we have helped companies and organisations of all types to connect their brands to the bottom line.