Making America Great Again?

04 July, 2019 Share socially

Despite being among the most advanced, democratic, and diverse countries in the world the US has fallen out of the Top 10 in this year’s survey of the top 75 wealthiest nations, as their brand strength and perception continues to rapidly decline. Since our last report, the US has slipped five spots to 12 and a number of key attributes have all fallen (albeit by relatively small margins): Recommend to Visit, Good To Do Business With, and Made In.

But what is causing the decline?

Environmental Friendliness

As many countries grapple with the trade-offs between economic growth, human well-being, and a sustainable future, governments and brands alike are being challenged to make Environmental Friendliness part of their agendas. And it’s clear perception matters.

Despite 13 federal departments reporting on the likely increase of destructive weather events affecting the United States, the current administration’s position on climate change and reversal of Obama policies may have contributed to the poor US ranking on Environmental Friendliness (down 9 points from 2014).

There has been a renewed commitment to fossil fuel - many environmental regulations (seen as “impediments to business”) have been scrapped, and laws on waste-dumping have been shelved despite American citizens producing over 3 times as much waste as their Chinese counterparts, all of which could have resulted in the US falling more than any other country on Environmental Friendliness.

Polarizing Politics

In our 2014 study, we pointed to Extremism and Migration as dominant themes informing the future. Five years later, our current study reveals the impact of these themes on perception of countries such as the US. With the nation grappling with populist factions, stinging headlines, and wavering public approval, our survey respondents perceived the US in a less favorable light across all meaningful measures. Despite its GDP strength, this traditional “world power” is not winning on perception as respondents showed less emotional connection and are less likely to live/study or visit there.

Measuring country strength

Are environmental concerns and politics alone to blame for the USA’s lacklustre performance? Divisiveness dominates headlines in the US with stories of children separated from their parents at the Mexican border following Trump’s call for a border wall and additionally the wave of new legislation at the state level adding fuel to the fire. Accusations of voter suppression and gun rights in the midst of a public health crisis are splitting the country across party lines.

Our findings are echoed in a compelling opinion piece in the New York Times this week that describes how the US ranks in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries. Whilst being the richest, it is also the poorest with an 18% poverty rate. Its education rankings are far below expectations of the wealthiest nation in the world, and its citizens spend the most on healthcare, whilst having lower life expectancy. The piece reflects on current state of affairs bearing comparison to that of a developing country, and that America risks being caught up in a MAGA rhetoric whilst ignoring the serious cracks in its system.

Making America Great Again?

Our study forecasts country brand strength in the future and worryingly, the findings indicate that the US is now perceived as less inviting to tourists, visitors, students, and investors who question the policies now informing and ultimately shaping the Value Systems in this nation.

As we saw in this year’s Index, a country’s strength lies not just in its prosperity, but in its ability to provide a high quality of life for all of its citizens. Countries at the forefront of revolution that seek to safeguard their (country brand) strength must counterbalance the negative effects of rapid innovation with measures to preserve quality of life across the board.

Download the FutureBrand Country Index 2019