Nation branding aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). In the book Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, the authors define nation branding as "the application of corporate marketing concepts and techniques to countries, in the interests of enhancing their reputation in international relations." Many nations try to make brands in order to build relationships between different actors that are not restricted to nations. It extends to public and private sectors in a nation and helps with nationalism. States also want to participate in multilateral projects. Some approaches applied, such as an increasing importance on the symbolic value of products, have led countries to emphasise their distinctive characteristics. The branding and image of a nation-state "and the successful transference of this image to its exports - is just as important as what they actually produce and sell."This is also referred to as country-of-origin effect.
Nation branding is a developing field in which scholars continue their search for a unified theoretical framework. Many nations aim to improve their country's standing, as the image and reputation of a nation can dramatically influence its economic vitality. They seek to attract tourism and investment capital, increase exports, attract a talented and creative workforce, and enhance their cultural and political influence in the world. Different ways that nation project their nation brand include export, foreign direct investment, and tourism. One example of exporting products is that the country Germany is known for their motor industry because famous car companies like Mercedes, Audi, and BMW are German companies. An example of foreign direct investments that help the nation brand are US companies building maquiladoras and other European countries having factories in different countries.
It must be noted that as technology innovates and progresses, it takes the research and practice of Nation Branding into a whole new realm. One of the key players in Nation Branding, Jose Filipe Torres, asserts that the Digital world is the new frontier in nation branding and Place branding and should be approached much more seriously. 
The Digital World, equals the Real World and thanks to the shift in the way we interact with technology; both from an intensity point of view and from the credibility it has gained, it has triggered a dramatic change in the behavior of global citizens towards countries regions and cities. For a demonstration of this theory refer to the Digital Country and City indexes. 
Nation branding appears to be practiced by many countries, including the United States, Canada, France, United Kingdom (where it is officially referred to as public diplomacy), Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and most Western European countries. An early example of this was the Cool Britannia approach of the early days of the New Labour government (following the Britain (TM) pamphlet by Demos's Mark Leonard), though this has since been replaced by a more credible Public Diplomacy Board[dead link]. There is increasing interest in the concept from poorer states on the grounds that an enhanced image might create more favorable conditions for foreign direct investment, tourism, trade and even political relations with other states. Developing nations such as Tanzania and Colombia are creating smaller nation branding programs aimed at increased overall image and with the case of Colombia, changing international perception. Nation branding is seen as a part of Sweden's public diplomacy, especially with Brand Sweden. Sweden uses two main institutions, called the Utrikesdepartementet and the Swedish Institute, to study their nation branding. They wanted to present a good image through the press and also collect different reports on Sweden's representations abroad. Different events and campaigns were also made to promote Brand Sweden, one example being the House of Sweden which was an embassy in the US. Another campaign was the Second House of Sweden which used the internet to introduce Sweden's embassy virtually. Researchers in Sweden also studied the Nation Brand Index (NBI) results to collect data.
Nation branding can be approached in academics as a field in social sciences, political sciences, humanities, communication, marketing and international relations. Scholars such as Evan H. Potter at the University of Ottawa have conceptualized nation brands as a form of national soft power. All efforts by government (at any level) to support the nation brand - either directly or indirectly - becomes public diplomacy.
Anti-globalisation proponents often claim that globalisation diminishes and threatens local diversity, but there is evidence that in order to compete against the backdrop of global cultural homogeneity, nations strive to accentuate and promote local distinctiveness as a competitive advantage.
Quotes from Nation Branding experts:
Aparna Sharma, former CEO of the India Brand Equity Foundation states "Nation branding as a strategy straddles both the developed and developing world. It has evolved beyond the needs of tourism promotion and is being leveraged by as much the developed and the developing world to promote their nation brands.
Simon Anholt, a well-respected expert in the field asserted "When I first compared countries to brands in 1996, I wanted to draw people's attention to the fact that in our globalised world - where every place has to compete for its share of tourists, investors, talent, media, events and consumers - the reputations of places become paramount, just like the brand images of products and companies. So, if brand just means "image", "standing" or "reputation", then everything and everyone has a brand".
The concept of measuring global perceptions of countries across several dimensions (culture, governance, people, exports, tourism, investment and immigration) was developed by Simon Anholt. His original survey, the Anholt Nation Brands Index, was launched in 2005 and fielded four times a year. Today it is fielded and published once a year in partnership with GfK, named the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, using a panel of 20,000 people in 20 countries to monitor the global perceptions of countries. There is also an Anholt-GfK Roper City Brands Index. 
Brand Finance produces an annual Brand Finance Nation Brands table, in which 100 brands are ranked according to national brand value. This is based on the royalty relief methodology and takes into account the brand strength of individual countries.
The Digital Country Index uses searches from Google search engine to show what citizens across the globe are searching for in terms of 5 dimensions, which are following: Tourism, Investment, Talent, Prominence and Exports.  For example, the more online tourism related searches a country has from international tourists or investors, the more appealing it is, regardless of its size or the type of tourism or investment it attracts. The objective of this Index is to provide the least subjective results possible. Therefore, the position of each Country is solely determined by their search volume in each of the 5 Dimensions (with the exception of National Prominence). Social Media is excluded from the analysis, as this Index measures the "consequence", not the "cause" of what has triggered the proactive interest towards any given Country. This Index is created by Bloom Consulting.
After the success of the Digital Country Index, the first Digital City Index was launched in summer of 2017 and includes 67 European Cities, mostly Capital Cities but not limited to. The data produced from this index can aid city councils and city tourism boards steer their investment to what the potential tourists/ investors/ or workforce are looking for in the city. This index only uses 3 out of 5 of the dimensions - Tourism, Investment and Talent, however the overall methodology is the same as the Digital Country Index. This index is created by Bloom Consulting.
Futurebrand publishes the Country Brand Index every year, which includes an overall ranking of the 75 countries and rankings by dimension, FutureBrand collected quantitative and qualitative data from Approximately 2,500 opinion-formers and frequent international business or leisure travellers in 17 countries (USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, UAE, India, China, Thailand, Japan and Australia). complete perception dashboards for the top five country brands, regional leaders, and 'ones to watch' for the future. Futurebrand tests a global research sample based on the Hierarchical Decision Model (HDM) which involves determining an individual's awareness, familiarity, association, and preference towards a country's brand. In their 2014-15 ranking, the top 5 nations brands were (ranked from first to fifth) Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Canada.