Identifying and understanding the most valuable brands
As it becomes easier to attribute value to a brand companies are becoming more aware of the need for a strong brand strategy.
Global branding agencies, such as Interbrand, who published their 15th Best Global Brands Report yesterday, provide universal metrics to help businesses understand this value.
Graham Hales, global chief marketing officer at Interbrand says, “Smart organisations understand their brand as an asset and manage it as such, the top 100 all do this, which is why they are the top 100”.
Interbrand talk about four stages of brand understanding, ‘the age of identity’, ‘the age of value’, the ‘age of experience’, which we are now in; practising brand at every level of a business, and Interbrand predicts that the next stage will be the ‘age of you’; a truly consumer-focused approach to brands.
This trajectory reflects the rise of digital and social in recent years and Interbrand has begun to incorporate social media into its own brand-measurement techniques. “Brands are much more able to participate than they were in the past”, says Hales. This is both an opportunity and a risk for major organisations and brands.
Brand experience varies depending on the stakeholder and Hales concedes that this is a contradiction that effects many organisations. For example Amazon and Google’s tax avoidance scandal, while perhaps not a problem for investors, was likely damaging for the consumer market. Hales says, “The relationship damage that they have potentially done with their customers is interesting. It indicates that those businesses aren’t necessarily as coordinated as we might expect them to be.”
The side-lining of the consumer that sometimes takes place among big brands may drive the direction of the Best Global Brands Report in future years, with brands that take this seriously moving up in the ranks. This is what Interbrand defines as ‘the age of you’. Hales says, “ You’ve got to have a business that your customers feel completely comfortable within, that is respecting its customers, not just on a commercial level, but as individuals and people.”
Topping this year’s table were Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, IBM and Microsoft. New entrants into the top 100 were DHL, Land Rover, FedEx, Hugo Boss and Huawei; the first Chinese brand to make the list.
Interbrand uses a consistent methodology to measure the value of brands, the 2014 report was celebrated at a launch party held last night at Interbrand’s London offices on the Strand.