FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index (CBI) has rated the US number one country brand for 2009.

Australia held the top spot for the past three years, but slipped to third place in 2009 behind Canada, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Continuing the neighbourly correlation, New Zealand took fourth place.

FutureBrand suggest the ‘Obama effect’ is behind the US’ rise, the first time the country has taken first place in the index’s history. The company also suggest Australia has benefited from ‘The Best Job in the World’ campaign and Baz Luhrmann’s Australia – explaining the drop in place with the move toward ‘value travel’ and staycationing.

“After three years in the number one position, a remarkable achievement by any measure, this new development was just a matter of time. The measurable decline of some key attributes, combined with the revitalisation of Brand USA, has resulted in the effect on Australia’s ranking. It highlights the importance of keeping a country brand fresh, relevant and engaging – no small challenge in a highly competitive international marketplace.” said Tim Riches, CEO FutureBrand Singapore and growth officer, Asia-Pacific.

Australia remains the country most people have on their wish list to visit, live in and/or extend a business trip in.

The days of countries marketing themselves with travel posters are over. Wise governments harness, propel and amplify their country as a brand, given it also encompasses culture, exports retail, real estate and of course tax revenue. The popular phrase says ‘tourism is too big to fail,’ but if no one is paying attention or if it is undervalued or taken for granted, the competition will benefit,” said Rene A. Mack, president, Weber Shandwick Travel & Lifestyle Practice.

CBI Top Country Brands

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. France
  6. Italy
  7. Japan
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Germany
  10. Spain