Nation branding has been criticised for leading to the homogenisation and depoliticisation of national interest and identity. This study examines the politics of nation branding in relation to its configuration with public diplomacy and the institutional policy context in which they are embedded. Informed by Scandinavian institutionalism and the analytical concept of translation, the study reveals that the way that nation branding relates to public diplomacy within an institutional context sets the frame for its politicisation. Translation enables the understanding of nation branding as a dynamic process of becoming that unfolds in relation to time and place. The research contributes to a more nuanced view on nation branding in presenting its toolbox practices as less determined by a corporate marketing logic. Despite the uniformity that allegedly characterises nation branding practices, the processes by which nation branding initiatives are implemented in Scandinavia are found to differ profoundly.