Simon Anholt is normally credited as a pioneer in the field. He regularly conducts two global surveys known as the Anholt Nation Brands Index and Anholt City Brands Index. There is one professional/academic journal in the field, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Simon Anholt.
Nation branding appears to be practised by many states, including the United States and United Kingdom (where it is officially referred to as Public Diplomacy), South Africa, New Zealand, and most Western European countries. There is increasing interest in the concept from poorer states on the grounds that an enhanced image might create more favorable conditions for foreign direct investment, tourism, trade and even political relations with other states.
Anti-globalisation proponents often claim that globalisation diminishes and threatens local diversity, but there is evidence that in order to compete against the backdrop of global cultural homogenity, nations strive to accentuate and promote the distinctiveness of local characteristics and competitive advantages.
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The concept of measuring the global perception of a country in several spheres has been developed by Simon Anholt. A subsequent ranking of nations following his surveys was first released in 2005 known as Anholt Nation Brands Index and was initially published four times a year.
Since 2008 research activities from GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media and Simon Anholt are joined and resulted in an expanded version of the index which is since then known as the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI).
Published on an annual base, 20,157 interviews have been conducted with approximately 1,000 interviews per country for the 2008 Index to determine how countries are perceived by others. Adults at the age 18 or over have been interviewed in twenty core countries such as U.S.A, Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, South Africa. The criteria underlying the NBI ranking are:
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Exports: Determines the public's image of products and services from each country and the extent to which consumers proactively seek or avoid products from each country-of-origin.
Tourism: Captures the level of interest in visiting a country and the draw of natural and man-made tourist attractions.
Culture & Heritage: Reveals global perceptions of each nation's heritage and appreciation for its contemporary culture, including film, music, art, sport and literature.
Investment & Immigration Determines the power to attract people to live, work or study in each country and reveals how people perceive a country's economic and social situation.