WPP has just released its Brandz report on the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands. And, as usual it’s a cracking read for anyone interested in how great brands are built and behave.
In the midst of global recession, Brandz serves to remind us all of the importance of brand strength to business and indeed economic growth. Brands not only generate wealth for brand owners. The best of them are pillars of values that are important to society – trust, confidence, innovation, responsibility, and care for others and so on. Values that society needs to help it weather the economic storm.
Brandz pares away financial data and other corporate factors to arrive at the true financial value of a branded business. And it might interest you to know that the total value of the Top 100 Brands this year is $2.4 trillion. Then it overlays what consumers in 30 countries think and feel about the brands.
Technology and telecoms brands dominate the top 10 per cent of the listing. With Apple the top global brand enjoying 19 per cent increase in brand value year-on-year.
IBM, Microsoft, Google, Verizon, AT&T and China Mobile are all jostling for top slot. In fact the only ‘traditional’ brands in the top 10 are McDonalds, Coca Cola and Marlboro – a testament to the wholesome American lifestyle that seems to have encompassed the world!
The top rising brands in the world were led by Facebook. They included Hermes, MasterCard, Ralph Lauren and Starbucks in the front rank. But almost half of the brands surveyed lost value, with the Insurance category experiencing the sharpest decline.
You can download the Brandz app for iPhone or Android at www.brandz.com/mobile. But while you do that let me just highlight six important learnings the WPP experts have derived from the study.
The value equation
Consumers have adopted a new attitude toward consumption—considered rather than conspicuous. Many brands that appreciated in value, such as Zara, Uniqlo and Home Depot, combined product quality with price into an appealing value proposition.
Brand strength isn’t an inoculation that prevents problems. Stuff happens. The economy fails, consumer tastes change. Corrections are inevitable. Brand strength enabled renewal to happen. And happen quickly. Starbucks and Toyota are enjoying this effect.
Consumers have little patience with brands—and corporations— that violate trust. They publicize transgression immediately and widely on social media. When you are doing damage control, it’s too late for the reputation conversation. So consumers continued to distrust banks, no surprise. But they also scrutinised more revered brands like Apple, Facebook and Google.
Not long ago, a huge warehouse filled with racks stacked high with merchandise defined successful power retailing. Consumers in those aisles now shop with mobile device in hand, conducting price comparisons. Brands expecting to succeed in this landscape are reimagining themselves, looking for ways to be present in a compelling way in every possible physical and virtual reality.
No single brand personality guarantees success. There’s no formula. Brands in the same product category, but with radically different personalities, can both succeed. The key is to understand a brand’s personality and then to incorporate those traits into a consistent brand message. Brazil’s Brahma beer is a happy brand that ranks highly on Brand Contribution.
An entrepreneur with a good idea and minimal investment can still rapidly impact any category. Today’s telecom or a retailer can be tomorrow’s bank. Digital makes it possible. Category disruption is a looming threat that brands can best handle by perpetually innovating and experimenting, adopting what works and eliminating what doesn’t. Even Amazon, which perfected the world of online shopping, is now experimenting with a presence in the physical world.
Chris Harrison is Chairman Young & Rubicam Group Africa
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