How strong is Ireland’s brand, and how does it compare to the rest of the world?

The importance of branding is something that Ireland has always seemed to understand. As a small island facing the vast Atlantic at the edge of Europe, Ireland is conscious of its image because it relies so heavily on foreign investment and tourism.

According to Brand Finance, a brand evaluator and consultancy firm, Ireland has a “brand valuation” of $250bn for 2014, enough to land it the 38th spot in most valuable brands, below Chile and Qatar, but above Hong Kong and New Zealand.

While Ireland wasn’t able to crack the top tier on valuation, it did come in at number five for “Best Performers,” increasing its brand value 35% from $185bn in 2013 to the $250bn of 2014.

Ireland performed better still in the “Brand Strength” category, placing at number 18, up eight places from 26 last year.

Without a look at the methodology, all of these numbers could sound totally made up or arbitrary. Each year, Brand Finance releases a list of the world’s “100 leading nation brands.” They analyze countries around the world using criteria similar to what they use for ranking companies, looking at such factors as economic growth and GDP (past, present and forecasted) to build their model. Their brand strength methodology is a bit more nuanced, determined by performance across four “pillars”: Goods & Services, Tourism, People & Skills and Investment.

In terms of other countries, “Brand USA” came out tops in terms of value with an astounding $19 trillion, more than three times more than second place China. The UK came in 4th with $2.8 trillion, Canada at 6th with $2.2 trillion and Australia at 9th with $1.5 trillion. To give some perspective on the difference between “Brand USA” and “Brand Ireland,” Ireland’s valuation would fit into America’s over 77 times. Ireland did a lot better on brand strength, landing in the top twenty at 18th, behind Canada at 12th, Australia at 9th, the United Kingdom and the US at 5th and 4th respectively, and Germany topping the list.

On the flip side, the bottom of the valuation list is populated by Albania, Zambia and Botswana. The worst performers of the year include Ukraine down 38%, due to the ongoing conflict, Lebanon down 23% and strangely enough, Croatia, down 9%.

So there you have it, while Ireland isn’t able to compete with the biggest economies in the world, it came within spitting distance of the big players on brand strength and reputation. Not too shabby for that small island on the edge of Europe.