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Formalizing the American brand: the case for the US culture, language, and soft-power institutes


The United States is no stranger to “public diplomacy” efforts to serve its strategic interests and project its image and values in times of conflict or strife, though generally these recede. Yet the country now faces serious deterioration in its national standing, suggesting a need for new strategies. This paper surveys the differing approaches made by Germany with its Goethe Institut and China with its Confucius Institute as potential models for the United States. Based on these experiences, the paper advances the argument that as a matter of public policy, the U.S. should establish its own institute drawing on these successful “soft-power” models to market the nation’s distinct culture, its unique take on the English language, its suitability for investment, travel, and tourism, and promotion of its national brand image.

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Correspondence to Todd Schaefer.

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Brett, K., Schaefer, T. Formalizing the American brand: the case for the US culture, language, and soft-power institutes. Place Brand Public Dipl 15, 124–133 (2019).

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  • Soft power
  • Confucius Institute
  • Goethe Institut
  • National narratives
  • Nation branding
  • United States