Germany replaced the United States as the country with the best global image in a survey of 50 countries, according to the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index. Simon Anholt, founder of the Index, talks about Germany’s image – and the responsibility that it creates.
Germany was ranked number 1 in the most recent Nation Brands Index (NBI). What were the reasons for that?
There is only one reason: the USA is down to number 7. And Germany is always the standby most admired nation whenever America makes itself temporarily unpopular.
The NBI takes into account many more aspects though, doesn’t it?
Yes, but this is the only factor that ever changes. People’s perception of a country’s culture, products, landscape and its people doesn’t change from year to year. In fact, even the perception of politics doesn’t change much. The only country that is volatile is the USA, because it is really the only foreign country that people around the world ever think about. That volatility is not shared by any other nation in the index.
Which is surprising, because from the inside there is indeed a feeling of volatility in Germany. The country is fundamentally reshaping its identity, especially in terms of international relations.
I think this is a very interesting moment in history for Germany and for Europe, because of the enormous leadership vacuum that has opened up as a result of the USA no longer providing the kind of multilateral moral guidance it has provided for centuries. So some country or region has to step up and say: “We will guide the international community in a spirit of multilateralism and cooperation, because nobody else is doing it.”
Do you think Germany could be this country?
Germany must be this country, because it’s top of the NBI. It’s the only country that has popular permission to do that. Germany has global responsibilities right now.
What is your personal view of Germany?
I think that Germany is a miracle. Since 1945, it has gone from probably the most despised nation to the most admired nation – Japan being the only country that has done something similar. Seventy years is a very short time to effectively change the global culture. Because the way we regard other countries is not a media phenomenon, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Germany has forced the world to reassess its cultural landscape.
Click here for the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index 2017 results