singapore tops brand nation
Singapore pushes Germany out of top spot to take 2015 brand nation titleREUTERS/Tim Chong

Singapore has taken over the top spot as the most powerful 'nation brand' in 2015, unseating Germany which is facing the effects of its auto giant's diesel emissions scandal. Germany is now down at the 13th spot, falling from the top spot it held in 2014.

UK research company Brand Finance said that in a survey of 100 countries under the category of 'nation brand strength', Germany's brand value lost 4% or $191bn from last year. Although the loss cannot be attributed solely to the VW scandal, it said the country's brand strength is "derived in large part from its manufacturing prowess [including] automotive brands such as Volkswagen."

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance said that the fact "such an iconic German brand, the 'people's car,' could behave in this way is beginning to undo decades of accumulated goodwill and cast aspersions over the practices of German industry."

The report said that although Germany's international reputation was enjoying a positive year, especially from its warm reception for hundreds of thousands of Syrian migrants, the "goodwill generated by [that] sympathetic stance has been overshadowed by VW's deception."

Singapore, which was in second position in 2014, took the top spot with 88.0 points out of the 100 under the proprietary formula that determines the ranking. The report said Singapore gained points in key metrics such as the suitability as an investment destination.

National brand strength is based on an index of three major elements: investment, society and goods and services. It considers taxation and government policy on trade but universal values like human rights and press freedom are not reflected. Robert Haigh, Brand Finance's marketing and communications director confirmed to the Nikkei Asian Review that "civil-society-related values do not play a role" in the company's calculation of national brand strength.

Second spot for 2015 went to Switzerland with 85.9 points and United Arab Emirates and Finland in the fourth spot. New Zealand and Hong Kong ranked fifth and sixth respectively. Qatar took ninth spot.