Interbrand’s ‘The Best Global Brands’ report has been released for 2016, and it will come as no surprise that technological disrupters Apple and Google are sitting right at the top.
“It’s clear the best global brands are not just weathering change, but driving it,” says Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s Global Chief Executive Officer. “They understand their Anatomy of Growth is complex, unique and personal; they look inward and outward, expand into new markets, and create better experiences to grow their brands and businesses.”
But what makes these brands so valuable? It’s not about profit or turnover; brand equity or brand value is how often your brand is chosen over the competition because of the relationships, perception, expectations or memories associated with it. It’s about having the ability to provide the qualities that are going to enhance a customer’s experience with you – it’s not necessarily about the offering – although of course, that’s of extreme importance. Although many of you will disagree, Apple and Samsung smart phones are now much the same – but Apple has a FAR higher brand value.
Taking a further look at the elements possessed by those at the top of the list will provide great insights into how to turn your business into a valuable brand.
Brand Value Growth: +5% = $178,119m
Apple’s rise through this list has been nothing short of astonishing. In 2011 they sat at number eight with a brand value of $33 billion. It has now surpassed the likes of well-established giants Coca-Cola, Facebook, McDonalds and Samsung.
They also beat off competition this year from disruptive brands Instagram and Netflix in the CoolBrands survey, being named the ‘coolest brand of the year’ for the fifth year running.
It’s a fair comment that Apple doesn’t have an audience; what they have are fiercely loyal brand advocates.
“It is no surprise that Apple is one of the most valuable brands in the world, what makes them so appealing is the creativity and innovation they apply to each and every one of their products.” Muses Victoria Ward at Speed Agency, “Take the example of the Ipad – when the concept was first released, it was met with criticism stating that the idea wouldn’t work. However the marketing around the product and the innovativeness of the design made consumers realise that the device combined the best of both a smartphone and a laptop; something that was more intimate than a laptop, and so much more capable than a smartphone. Their success all lies in the products design and capability which is ground breaking, cutting edge and pioneering, all this points towards their originality and creativity which is what makes Apple a great brand that many people strive to own”
Alan Mann, Digital Marketing Manager at PMCG concurs, “Apple hasn’t ever really invented anything. iPod, iPhone and iPad are products that already existed in the marketplace. However, what Apple cleverly achieved is taking existing products and enhancing the user experience, making them intuitive to use for anyone and by anyone. What’s more, adopting iconic design and aesthetics that appeals to the masses opens doors to a larger market. Steve Jobs took industry design cues from Sony and adopted a seamless integration ecosystem with other Apple products that makes shifting to other brands difficult. Apple commands a healthy profit margin on all of their products; most people wouldn’t know any wiser as Apple doesn’t skimp on quality. Human perception is always design first, then quality, followed by user experience.”
Brand Value Growth: +11% = $133,252m
Claiming one of the top positions for the fourth year in a row, not surprising when you look at the strength of their finances coupled with the sheer fact they have the monopoly over the search engine sector. To support that statement, let’s remember that Google itself is no longer just a brand name – it’s a transitive verb.
Not sure what I mean? Just Google it!
From their very beginning, Google have strived to create user experiences that are seamless, relevant and influential. They are providing millions of users with positive experiences each and every day.
But how do they do it? Google’s branding is undeniably strong and highly visual – it’s easy to conjure up their primary coloured, iconic yet simplistic logo. But a logo doesn’t make a brand. Google have a clear mission –
“To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
A transparent and challenging mission, but it’s fair to say they are delivering on this! Google as a brand empower people; they empower people with knowledge from search, they empower businesses and the marketing industry with hard data from analytics, and they empower their employees with platforms to innovate the world. They are all about innovating with purpose, and we are all about purpose nowadays.
Brand Value Growth: -7% = $73,102m
There’s hardly an element of shock that Coca-Cola’s brand value has decreased. The very nature of their offerings means that they were going to be hit by the health campaigns that have swept across the world. Many of the high profile and government-led initiatives such as the Sugar Tax have pushed the message of the damaging impacts of sugar and society has received the message loud and clear.
The entire soft drink industry in the UK has fallen by 0.5% compared to last year, and British soft drink suppliers have seen their share price slip.
Coca Cola unveiled a rebrand last year, unifying its sub-brands, so that they were recognisable under the long standing Coca Cola brand. Before that point they had individual designs and marketing strategies for their respective audiences. However, it’s inherently to unify a brand when the products have varying marketing strategies – which is what has happened. The re-brand created confusion rather than enhancing offerings and it seems that this was another factor in the brands annual decline in value.
Coca-Cola have suffered another blow, failing to hit its own three to four percent annual growth target.
Brand Value Growth: +8% = $72,795m
After years of being downtrodden both in the press and in the sales department, Microsoft has risen through the ranks through the last few years.
Its tactic of moving away from PC-centric to highly relevant cloud-centric is the primary driver of its recent growth, and according to numerous media reports, its 3rd CEO Satya Nadella is to thank for that direction. Before Satya, Microsoft was reliable – yet stuffy; the pioneers that never appeared to be pioneering despite the products that they brought to the desktop.
It was corporate shirt and tie, not young start up jeans and tee – but the new CEO set about making amends with developers, building innovate new products and engaging with their audience.
Its new logo emulates both Google and eBay in its design, simple yet memorable; it also plays tribute to its heritage.
Brand Value Growth: +9% = $53,580m
Toyota are no stranger to being named as a highly valuable brand; along with the InterBrand survey, they have been labelled as the most valuable car brand nine times by market research giant Millward Brown.
“Brands get their value from how customers perceive them,” says David Reibstein, a professor of marketing and branding expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “What makes it valuable from a company perspective is that customers are willing to pay a higher price, or are more likely to buy.”
Toyota customers are similar to Apples – they are loyal brand believers. As a brand, Toyota are quietly understated and perceived as trustworthy. The issue they previously faced was while they were known for being a ‘solid’ brand, they lacked personality – so they acted. Introducing a more playful dynamic into their branding and marketing strategies along with their products; recent campaigns had an element of fun incorporated such as the ‘Go fun yourself’ and ‘let’s go places’. Rounding off their brand with their ethical stance in areas such as workforce diversity and leading the field in green technology.
Your business’s brand value is not about flashy, big spend marketing campaigns. It is about the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that you impart on your audience, the quality of their experience with you. Every interaction should impart value.