Purpose: The paper's aim is to determine, by means of an extensive exploratory study and the metaphorical use of a molecule, the set of dimensions and facets that exist in people's minds in regards to a country brand, and at the same time to compare the results with the dimensions used by practitioner-led sources to measure the same construct. Design/methodology/approach: A total of 532 graduate students living in 20 different countries freely reported the concepts they associate with different country names. The construction of the nation brand molecule was carried out in three steps: generating the inventory of all the associations made by participants in relation to country names; classifying the inventory; and mapping the molecule. Findings: The nation brand molecule (NBM) which encompasses all the associated concepts that give shape to the overall molecule was developed. Seven dimensions, with their corresponding facets, were identified: economy, tourism, geography and nature, culture and heritage, society, science and technology, and government. Research limitations/implications: First, the sample was significantly biased towards graduate students. Second, the free elicitation process was requested mainly focused on nation brand personality, so there still may be some country facets not included in the NBM. Finally, this study does not have a hierarchy or relative weight of each of the molecule's dimensions. Practical implications: The seven dimensions identified here match some of those used by private sources to measure country brand. However, this study uncovers two dimensions that are not considered by either of the private sources: geography and nature, and science and technology. This may demonstrate that what should be measured is not exactly what has been measured, and therefore indicates a potential content validity problem of the private measures currently in use. Originality/value: This paper is the first to explore the dimensions comprising the nation brand construct at a multinational scope. Although practitioner-led indexes have been widely used for many country-branding projects, they only show what is being measured but not what should be measured in regards to the country brands, and therefore this paper fills the gap that exists in the current state-of-the-art.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Country identity and image, Nation brand dimensions and facets, Nation brand molecule, Positioning, The resource advantage theory
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-09-2013-0385
Journal Journal of Product and Brand Management
Citation
Rojas-Mendez, J. (2013). The nation brand molecule. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 22(7), 462–472. doi:10.1108/JPBM-09-2013-0385