Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi indoor theme park. Such theme parks and sports tournaments have helped the UAE place 20th in the Brand Finance ‘nation brand’ rankings. Image Credit: Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi

Those theme parks and championship golf tournaments aren’t just for fun, they’ve also helped the UAE place 20th in the latest Brand Finance “nation brand” rankings, helped by a gain of 19 per cent from last year. This steady improvement will be of help as the UAE prepares its campaigns in the final stretch towards the Expo 2020.

In dollar terms, the UAE’s brand has a putative value of $707 billion (Dh2.6 trillion), up from $594 billion in 2017. A nation brand and its value are based on the same principles that go into deciding the world’s leading corporate and product/service brands, such as that for Apple or Facebook.

 "The [UAE] also benefits from its sponsorship commitments with high profile sporting events such as hosting the annual Emirates airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and Abu Dhabi Mubadala World Tennis Championships."

 - Brand Finance report

For the UAE, its emphasis on infrastructure — including that being built for the longer term — is what is helping. “New world-class theme park brands such as Legoland Dubai and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi have opened their doors,” the Brand Finance report states. “Steady hotel occupancy rates indicate that the UAE remains a popular tourist destination.

“The country also benefits from its sponsorship commitments with high profile sporting events such as hosting the annual Emirates airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and Abu Dhabi Mubadala World Tennis Championships.”

The US places first in the consultancy’s latest update, with the brand worth a putative $25.9 trillion, up 23 per cent year-on-year. The heated political and social debates happening within the US don’t seem to have had much of a residual impact, at least this year.

putative value of UAE’s brand, up from $594b in 2017

Brand Trump, clearly, has not dented Brand USA, according to the consultancy.

“As Donald Trump approaches the start of his third year at the White House, in the longer run, negative perceptions of his personal brand have turned out to have little impact on the nation brand as a whole,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance. “Rather, the new free-market policies have resonated with business leaders and the economy is growing, driving an improvement in America’s brand strength and brand value alike.”

Of the nations that come between the US and the UAE in the Top 20, China, Germany, the UK and Japan took up spots between second and fifth. Honduras and Libya occupied the 99th and 100th spots. Among the Top 50, Germany’s brand value recorded the highest gains to $5.1 trillion.

Even the distractions of Brexit do not seem to have affected the UK’s brand strength. It actually recorded a “solid” 20 per cent growth to $3.8 trillion, replacing Japan in fourth place.

According to Haigh, “What the exact scenario and consequences of exiting the EU will be still remains to be seen, but both current market conditions and economic forecasts for the coming years reaffirm Britain’s ability to make the most of its post-Brexit future.”


Adding up a nation’s brand value

How does the nation branding and brand value help? As with business brand rankings, it provides a reckoner on how countries are doing on three counts — goods and services offered, investment prospects, and the nature of its society. These are further divided into sub-pillars such as tourism, market, governance and people and skills.

Then the individual metrics are scored, each assigned values out of 100. Together they contribute to an overall “Brand Strength Index” score for the nation brand, also out of 100. Based on the score, each nation brand is assigned a rating from AAA+ to D in a format similar to a credit rating. The UAE has a AAA rating on its branding.