Russia has paid a heavy price for its invasion of Ukraine, according to the 2022 version of the Brand Finance Nation Brands report. The sanctions imposed on the country, along with the widespread condemnation of the invasion in the Western world, has seen its brand value drop from $786bn (Rbs45.37trn) in 2021 to $642bn in 2022.

Konrad Jagodzinski, place branding director at Brand Finance, said: “Russia is now paying a heavy economic price for its decision to start this war. This is demonstrated by the self-inflicted damage to Russia’s nation brand, which is now worth less than that of Belgium – a country with a population 12 times smaller.”

Ukraine also experienced a drop in its nation brand value, or $22bn, as it attempts to defend itself against the Russian invasion. However, the tremendous levels of support and goodwill offered to the country since the invasion has seen its brand strength score increase by more than five points year on year, from 52.8 to 57.9 out of 100, driven mostly by a 15% increase in brand perceptions. Research by Brand Finance shows that Ukraine has scored notable increases in areas such as familiarity, reputation, influence, respected leaders, rule of law, human rights and trustworthy media. These factors should help the country recover and rebuild in a post-war environment.

Elsewhere in the report, the US retained its number one position as the most valuable nation brand in the world, at $26.5trn, ahead of China’s $21.5trn in second. Germany overtook Japan to come a distant third with a nation brand value of $4.5trn. The UK rounds out the top five, scoring an impressive post-Covid-19 recovery with a brand value of $4.1trn, $265bn higher than its 2021 figure.

When it comes to nation brand value growth in 2022, Serbia and Georgia are the fastest-growing countries, each up 24% on their 2021 performance, with both benefitting from their ability to attract Russian businesses displaced by the post-invasion sanctions imposed on Moscow. South Africa in third and Tanzania in fourth leads a strong African showing in this ranking, with each posting a 23% increase on 2021 figures.

In the brand strength ranking, however, more familiar names return to the fray, with Canada in the top position. The North American country’s brand strength is measured at 81.8 out of 100, ahead of the US (80.8), Switzerland (80.7), Germany (80.5) and Denmark (79). When it comes to brand performance, the United Arab Emirates takes the number one spot with a score of 80.5.

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At a forum to mark the launch of the report, in association with DPAAL, on 29 September in London, Jagodzinski noted that nation brand values had mostly recovered their Covid-19 losses, with 50 of the countries analysed exceeding their 2019 figures, and many of the other 50 close to achieving this. Meanwhile, author Dr Keith Dinnie of the University of Dundee stressed the importance of adapting a nation’s brand messaging to different markets, while Investment Monitor noted how many of the countries that punch above their weight in the Inward FDI Performance ranking, such as Costa Rica and Ireland, tend to perform well when it comes to establishing a strong nation brand too.

View the report here.