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USA's Soft Power reaches all time high despite reputational challenges

Laurence Newell
01 March 2023
Laurence Newell, Managing Director, Brand Finance Americas

According to Brand Finance’s latest research, the USA's Global Soft Power rating reached an all-time high, extending its positive trend for the second consecutive year. The USA added four points to its total score, placing it in first place and seven points ahead of the second-ranked United Kingdom. Equally impressive is the 19-point gain compared to the 55.9 score it recorded in 2021.  

Though the US overall scores continue to grow where one expects the US to do well, attributes such as A Strong and Stable Economy  (scores 10 of 10), Influence in Diplomatic Circles  (scores 10 of 10), Leader in Technology and Innovation  (scores 9.0 of 10 – likely led by best in class innovation such as Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and Amazon), Brand USA scores poorly in one area in particular that should speak to all of us who either live in the United States or who represent the country abroad: America's scores lowest in the People and Values  pillar.  

Further investigation reveals that the US is trending downwards in attributes such as Trustworthy  (down 11 places to 32nd) and has lost five ranking places in perceptions related to Generous. Perhaps most worryingly, America ranks 103rd in Friendly People (down 41 spots from being ranked 62nd in 2022). The world sample according to our study perceives that there are 102 nations with friendlier people than the USA.

It is surprising that a country that is perceived to be Best in Class in a study that measures the preference of others through appeal and attraction would score so poorly on perceptions of the friendliness of its people. However, this issue can be fixed, but it will require a significant shift in how Americans treat each other within the country's borders before the country can repair its reputation abroad. 

In that sense, the opportunity for further improvement in the United States’ Soft Power is likely not something that can be changed or fixed by Government policy. It reflects a weakness in how non-Governmental actors are perceived and might indicate a deep-seated cultural challenge to improving American soft power in the future.  

Given the results found in this study, there is more right with Brand America than wrong. However, as the great American writer, Thomas Friedman once stated, it will depend on reviving America's ability to do big, hard things together once again.   

About the Author

Laurence Newell
Managing Director
North America

Laurence is a brand specialist and consolidated marketing services business developer with 26+ years of experience directing client engagements in brand-building disciplines encompassing valuation, B2B and B2C research, strategy, corporate identity, and packaging across numerous sectors and markets. With experience throughout Latin American and North American markets, Laurence serves as Managing Director for the Americas Region of Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy. 

Laurence is a frequent contributor on marketing and branding topics in media outlets such as Bloomberg, and The Drum. Laurence is a representative for Mexico before the ISO Technical Committee responsible for reviewing the creation of a transparent, reconcilable, and repeatable approach to brand valuation, ISO 10668 on Monetary Brand Valuation, and participates in the US Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB), with Brand Finance.

Laurence holds an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and a postgraduate degree from the University of Miami.