The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands IndexSM: 2020 Report for Scotland

This report discusses the 2020 findings from the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand IndexSM (NBI) survey. NBI data are used to report on the International Indicator on 'Scotland's reputation'.

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Executive summary

Scotland's National Outcome for International – as part of the National Performance Framework – is that 'we are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally'. 'Scotland's reputation' is one of Scotland's 81 National Performance Framework Indicators[1]. National Indicators enable Scotland to track progress towards the achievement of National Outcomes. The purpose of the Framework is "to focus on creating a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increased wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive economic growth[2]".

Since 2008, the Scottish Government has used the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands IndexSM (NBISM) to assess and monitor how Scotland is perceived around the world. The NBISM examines the image of 50 countries by looking at a country's reputation along six dimensions of national competence: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism, Immigration and Investment. Together these provide an overall indication of a country's reputation.

The data provide snapshots in time. Over a number of years, these snapshots can track Scotland's reputation in the longer-term. Data can also be used to compare Scotland's reputation with that of other countries, and to monitor how Scotland sees itself. However, data cannot be used to evaluate performance of specific Scottish Government directorates, agencies or policies.

The rank and scores together provide an overall indication of a country's reputation[3][4]. Looking at the scores and ranks together is useful, as individually they may deliver different messages about a countries reputation and performance over time. For example, whilst a countries' score may decrease between two years, it's rank may increase over this period and vice versa.

Key findings from the 2020 data include[5]:

Scotland's overall position

  • Scotland's received an overall score of 62.6 (out of 100 points) and ranked 17th (out of 50 nations).
  • Scotland's absolute score has stayed fairly stable, going from 62.7 in 2018 to 62.6 in 2020[6], and Scotland's relative rank has decreased by one place since 2018 (from 16th in 2018 to 17th in 2020). This is because the rank may change in relation to other countries' performance while the absolute score will not[7].
  • While Scotland's score has decreased between 2018 and 2020, the change of 0.1 is below the 1.0 point threshold for Scotland's National Indicator 'Scotland's Reputation', indicating that Scotland's reputation is 'maintaining' internationally.

How other countries score and rank Scotland

  • Generally, perceptions of Scotland were highest amongst Commonwealth and English speaking countries with the United Kingdom[8], Australia and the United States ranking Scotland 2nd, 10th and 11th respectively. Between 2018 and 2020, Scotland's reputation improved the most in China, the United Kingdom and India.

Dimensions and attributes

  • Scotland is rated as a Top 20 country on five of the six dimensions of reputation. Scotland's strongest dimension in 2020 was Tourism, on which Scotland ranked 12th the world, with a score of 68.7 (down from 69.4 in 2018).
  • In terms of rank, Scotland's weakest dimension was Exports (22nd). This is Scotland's only dimension to rank outside of the Top 20. Exports also received the lowest overall score (56.9).
  • When looking at score, Culture is Scotland's only improved dimension since 2018, increasing from 60.0 to 60.7 in 2020. When looking at rank, Scotland's Culture is also the most improved dimension since 2018 (moving from 19th to 16th place).
  • Within the dimensions, Scotland fares relatively well in the rating of individual attributes. Natural beauty continues to be perceived as Scotland's strongest attribute, ranking 7th out of the 50 nations (and being the highest scoring attribute – 5.4 out of 7.0). Scotland ranked 10th in relation to how it protects the environment, 11th for how welcoming the people of Scotland are, and its rich cultural heritage; and 12th for its rich historic buildings and monuments.

Familiarity and favourability

  • At the start of the NBISM survey, respondents are asked to rate how familiar and how favourable they are towards each country. Familiarity with Scotland has increased from 61 per cent of respondents having some knowledge of Scotland in 2018 to 67 per cent in 2020. The most noticeable increase in levels of familiarity was seen from respondents in China, the United States and Australia. Overall, Scotland's rank remained 21st for familiarity.
  • Favourability towards Scotland maintained between 2018 and 2020. All 20 core panel countries gave Scotland a favourability score of more than 4.0 (on a 1.0 to 7.0 point scale) in 2020, suggesting that Scotland is viewed comparatively positively by all panel countries. Scotland's overall score for favourability was 4.9, and it was ranked 14th out of 50 (up by two places since 2018).

Demographic trends

  • Women tended to have a more positive image of Scotland than men, scoring Scotland higher than men across four of the six dimensions.
  • Overall, individuals in the 45 years and over and 30 to 44 years age group tended to have a more positive image of Scotland than individuals in the 18 to 29 year age group, with those aged 45 years and over scoring Scotland higher than the other age groups across four out of the six dimensions.
  • The more exposure people have had to Scotland (through visits or contact with websites) the more likely they were to be favourable towards Scotland, and to score Scotland higher on all the dimensions.
  • Business/executives scored Scotland higher than those in other occupations.
  • In nearly every one of Scotland's dimensions and their underlying attributes across the survey, similar patterns are seen for these demographic groups.

How Scotland sees itself

  • Scotland scored itself higher in 2020 than it did in 2018, and continues to rank itself 1st out of the 50 nations.



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