Fast forward to the future
The value of brand is the ultimate intangible. It’s what investors try to enumerate, what brand communicators try to understand and what consumers think they know. For one agency, brand value amounts to a company’s ability to remain successful in the future.
The aptly named FutureBrand Index, carried out by FutureBrand, examines 18 criteria of each of PWC’s Global Top 100 Companies to determine which brands are best prepared for continuing success.
“It’s not enough for these companies to be global, they have to make a connection in the communities in which they operate. It’s not just that they are known around the world, but they have a presence in different countries at the local level. That way, they can be better positioned for success,” says FutureBrand’s Alicia Fowler, a senior strategist and part of the team responsible for the index.
The index points to a link between brand value, future success and the relationships companies build with their audiences. Fowler adds, “The companies today that people view as successful and as having more potential in the future are more related to individuals and to helping them unlock their potential. How do they relate to people? How do they make themselves indispensable? It’s a shift in terms of not just the companies that matter, but in how they connect with customers, clients and consumers”
The top 10 of the FutureBrand Index does include an unusual array of organisations. The top three spots are claimed by the usual suspects: Google, Apple and Microsoft. That’s where the expectation ends, though. Following the tech giants are Walt Disney Company and R&D pharma firm Abbvie. Two more healthcare companies make the top spots – Gilead and Celegne – in addition to Samsung, Mastercard and SABMiller.
Fowler says it’s interesting that technology and healthcare are the best represented sectors in the top 10. However, their inclusion is due to their focus on brand purpose. “Tech and healthcare really dominated the index. These are companies that are helping people to unlock their potential and they are companies that are focused on an individual and helping those people start to become better.” Though many of these companies are younger than their brethren on the PWC ranking, they have more brand value in terms of their purpose and their experience, thus propelling them to the top of the FutureBrand Index.
The companies’ rankings in the index are determined by 3,000 people in 17 countries. However, the respondents are senior business professionals – managers, nurses and doctors, etc – that rate only seven companies of which they are familiar. This allows respondents to evaluate the 18 criteria of organisational strengths based on knowledge about the company and the sector, rather than by brand prominence or loyalty.
Interestingly, the bottom of the ranking includes names like the Bank of China, British American Tobacco, Bank of America, Verizon, Santander and others. Many of these are heritage brands with high and middling rankings by PWC. However, they fall short of establishing a strong purpose and linking that with experience, says Fowler. For these organisations to improve and better prepare for the future, the index suggests development of innovation, authenticity and thought leadership. In plainer words, having a brand purpose that means something to the company’s audience. Sounds simple, but preparing for the future never is.
The FutureBrand Index is in its second year.