Your guide to expertly managing risks to your nation brand

By Jason McGrath, EVP, US Head of Corporate Reputation, Ipsos

Managing the reputation of your nation has never been more important – or more challenging. The proliferation of social media along with other new technologies has dramatically impacted the way that people form perceptions of a place. With increasingly fast access to news stories and heightened ability to share opinions online, nation brand teams must evolve their skill sets to be able to rapidly respond to reputational risks and to build trust with key audiences and stakeholders.

In the face of a complex, dynamic issues environment, what are the points of influence and the methods for controlling your place narrative? How can nation brand teams proactively identify emerging risks to their reputation and take preventative action?

Integrating digital signals into your nation branding strategy

Trust has an enormous impact on nation branding – and indeed, on marketing and advertising more broadly. A recent analysis of Ipsos’ Global Reputation Monitor data shows there’s a proven link between trust and business performance. This extends to marketing efficiency – when they trust an organization a great deal, 95% of people say they’re likely to believe the ads they see, compared to only 30% of those who “distrust an organization a great deal.”

A strong reputation cultivates a stronger and more resilient relationship with your most important stakeholders, lending benefit of the doubt in the face of a crisis or negative media cycle and more. As a nation brand professional, you need to ask yourself: what drives trust in your place and your organisation?

Establishing the state and drivers of trust in an entity requires exploration of a wide set of signals and data points.  Organizations must first diagnose perceptions, and also understand what (issues, events, content) and who (potential influencers and detractors – both organizations and individuals) drive them. If you can’t identify and react to new risks that gain momentum quickly, you’ll find that it has a negative impact on reputation, brand perceptions, and ultimately, the ability to attract investment and tourism.

The reputation management mindset

Nation brand teams need to create a framework that allows them to both measure and monitor their reputation and the potential threats to it in order to manage risk proactively and respond agilely. First and foremost, nation brand leaders need to understand the current state of play. Organizations  can invest in a survey to gain these insights, or use tools such as the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index to diagnose how they perform against key dimensions and how they measure up against competitors.

Building from this initial diagnostic, organizations can start to identify areas in which they’re performing well and where there is work to be done and create a plan for building deeper context around those potential strengths and weaknesses. Let’s imagine your country has seen a drop in travel and tourism. Through a survey, you can identify that concerns around safety are contributing to this downward trend. Armed with this insight, you now can shape a strategy that includes exploration of digital data – social media, news, and even regulatory dialogue- to identify events, topical themes and points of influence that are contributing to this perception. From this set of facts, an organization can then prepare a playbook for addressing potential concerns and emphasising potential strengths to bolster trust in their brand and more proactively manage issues.

Introducing Ipsos RISE

Perception research - often conducted through in-depth-interviews and surveys - can be insightful and is a great foundational step to setting a reputational baseline, however, for organizations looking to build a more dynamic view of their reputation performance and what drives it, Ipsos RISE can be a great resource.  A first of its kind, AI-powered integrated insight platform, Ipsos RISE brings together traditionally disparate first, secondary and third-party data into a single interface – offering business and brand leaders a single source of truth for corporate and brand reputation management. Using Ipsos-trained large language models (LLMs), RISE offers real-time monitoring of hundreds of known reputational issues in more than 100 languages. Designed to meet organizations where they are on their insight journey, RISE is available both as an always-on insight platform and as a vehicle for point-in-time reports. Ways Ipsos’ clients travel and tourism clients are exploring use of RISE today include:

  • Exploring the role of ESG in building a strong and resilient nation brand
  • Mining for the root cause of what may deter or encourage travel and tourism activity
  • Examining the impact a nation’s stance on key global and cultural issues has on perceptions with citizens, investors and other key stakeholder groups of interest

Contact the Ipsos team to find out more about how to leverage Ipsos RISE to take control of nation brand reputation.

Plus, Jason McGrath, SVP, Ipsos Global Reputation Centre, presented findings from the 16th Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index at City Nation Place Global this November, including emerging trends driving the performance of the strongest nation brands. Watch the full presentation here to understand how you can leverage digital data to explore who and who drives perceptions of key topics associated with nation brand performance like travel and tourism or response to ESG issues.

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.