A nation brand is a complicated multi-facet construct. Even the critics of nation branding have admitted that nation brands exist. What they dispute is what nation branding refers to, and how a nation can be branded. This article aims to clarify some misunderstandings about nation branding. A conceptual framework is developed to illustrate the origins and different interpretations of the concept. Detailed comparisons are drawn between nation branding and commercial branding. A new definition is offered, which emphasises the need to shift from ‘branding’ the nation to nation image management. The use of nation image management is not only a change of terms but also helps overcome the public scepticism over the use of branding, and clarifies what can be ‘branded’ and what cannot be branded.