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Posts from the ‘Rising brands’ Category

The 36 most valuable brands in the world

Every year BrandZ, Interbrand and Brand Finance publish their lists of the most valuable brands in the world.  Their methods of valuation vary – as do the valuation figures – but if you look across all three top 100 lists, 36 brands appear in all three, and there are 179 in total.

Two 2015 lists have appeared so far – and the following brands entered into the top 179: au (by KDDI), Boeing, Bradesco, NBC International, Alibaba Group, Costco, HDFC Bank, Testra.

These brands fell out of the 179:
Yahoo!, Tesco, Toshiba, UBS, Unitedhealth, Sberbank, MTS, MTN, Deutsche Bank.

The 36 most valuable brands in the world are:


American Express




















J P Morgan
















The Legacy of ‘Just Do It’? Imperative Rebrands on the Rise

It’s been 25 years since Nike launched the renowned ‘Just Do It’ brand line, and their place as a global brand leader was reconfirmed this week as they came 24th in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands survey, showing a brand value increase of 13%.  Earlier in the year, Fast Company crowned it the most innovative company of 2013.  However, despite their 25 year dominance, other leading brands have only recently begun to emulate the imperative expressed in ‘Just Do It’.

‘Just Do It’ uses the imperative tense – ordering, commanding or instructing us to do something.   It captures the spirit of Nike’s athletes, yet also speaks directly to Nike’s mission statement and the idea that there is an athlete in all of us.  It challenges us, orders us, to ‘just do it’.

Of the 182 most valuable brands in the world, only 6% use the imperative tense in their encapsulation of what their brand stands for.  But this is on the rise.

Close to half of the world’s most valuable brands who rebranded in 2012 and 2013 use the imperative to encapsulate what they stand for.  Consider,

Gap – Be Bright
Pepsi – Live for Now
Ford – Go Further
Pizza Hut – Make it Great
Intel – Look Inside
HP – Make It Matter

The rise of ‘imperative rebrands’ is likely down to three things.

1. An increasing focus on the importance of employees as drivers of the brand and the customer experience.

Many of the brandlines above speak as powerfully to employees as they do to the end consumer.  It’s clear that HP’s ‘Make It Matter’ is as much a rallying cry internally to drive much-needed innovation, as it is a mandate to their customers.  As Ford indicated in their launch of Go Further,

The company is exhorting its 166,000 worldwide employees to “Go Further,” too, because executives believe that making Ford’s “internal brand” consistent with its new external messaging can create profound synergies that benefit the company in significant ways. “What we aim to do is inspire behavior,” Matt VanDyke, Ford’s director of global communications, told me. “Go Further” is “more than an advertising tagline. We want to institutionalize it as part of our culture.”

2. The understanding that successful marketing today needs to encourage deep consumer engagement with the brand.

The imperative tense asks you actively do something – to get involved.

3. The need for brevity.

In the increasingly cluttered and splintered media world we live in, brands struggle to get their brand ideas across.  Ford’s long form of their brand idea is “we go further so you can”: more polite but less directly engaging and memorable. The imperative tense uses the verb’s short infinitive form (make, look, go) – and that may make the brand idea more memorable.

The downside of this approach is that we may not like brands to command or instruct us to do something.   When Smirnoff told us to ‘Be There,’ some may have responded with an equally direct two word response…  This may have been partly why, after 3 years of using the phrase, they walked away from ‘Be There’ when they broke a new global campaign last year, to adopt a new line, ‘Yours for the Making’.

Brands need some credibility as an arbiter of cool, or to have garnered a great deal of respect, to talk to us in the imperative – so perhaps it is only the brand leaders who can get away with it, since we already feel like we know them and value their opinion.   Friends can talk to us this way; but not strangers.  New brands should beware of this approach – it may backfire.

Where do marketing leaders get their inspiration?

Two weeks ago, Millward Brown released their updated list of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.  In the 8 year period since the study launched, the BrandZ™ Top 100 Strong Brands Portfolio has appreciated 58 percent, compared with a market value gain of only 23 percent by the S&P 500.

These leading brands outperformed the stock market benchmark by a wide margin of 35%.

But what does it take to lead in the market?  Where do leaders look for inspiration and benchmarking?

Laterally, of course.  Leading brands don’t look at direct competitors to understand how to win in their market: you can’t break away from a category by looking within it.   Instead, they look outside their market to brands that are outperforming in other categories.

But don’t take my word for it.  As my blog title suggests, I obviously think this way.  Consider instead the behaviour of Sue Shim, CMO of Samsung:

When asked about companies that Samsung wants to benchmark … the CMO admitted she is spending more time studying best practices at Western companies. “In terms of brand strategies, Samsung should learn from many cases; and so I am studying some brands that saw a large and effective rise in value.’’

Or Sandrine Huijgen, Heineken’s global communication manager:

At no point does she mention competitors, instead regarding the likes of Nike, Apple, Old Spice, BMW and Chanel as Heineken’s bedfellows. “These all have, for very different reasons, a very strong consumer-brand relationship. We want consumers to love Heineken, but we’re not there, yet.”

Or Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.’s global marketing chief:

[Ford] closely studied global brand campaigns used by companies such as McDonalds and Nike to see how they work.

Or AT&T’s, Paul Roth, president of retail sales and service:

 “Our starting point wasn’t, who is the best retailer?” Roth says, “but who has the best customer service?” Roth and his team spent time with Harley Davidson, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks and Nordstrom to see what they could learn. “Our business has nothing to do with coffee or motorcycles. We were trying to understand how to build that type of customer loyalty.”

Or Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell, talking about Interbrand’s top 100.

We use Best Global Brands as a benchmark and look to others on the list as a source of inspiration and creativity. They motivate us to continually improve.

Or Deborah S. Conrad, corporate vice president and CMO for Intel:

I’ve been learning a lot from the automotive industry, from companies like Toyota and BMW, and that’s because I see a lot of parallels between cars and computers. I see that a computer is becoming an emotional and style decision. It’s not just about performance anymore…. I look also at consumer electronics, at companies such as Sony, Samsung and LG. Only a few years ago those companies were making products that weren’t all that exciting. The TV, until recently, was lackluster. But now it’s exotic, and it’s generating excitement. With both cars and TVs, companies struggle to keep the details simple and understandable yet exciting.

But looking laterally isn’t just about understanding how to execute.  It needs to start much earlier  –  with an understanding of who else is in your ideaspace and how to effectively compete against them, as Coke do.

Which brands are your lateral benchmarks?

If you’re struggling, a look at the world’s top 33 brands might be a good starting point.


The rise and fall of brands: changes in the Brand Finance top 100

Brand Finance published their 2013 top 500 brands list last week.  Looking at the top 100, there were eleven new entrants:

Banco do Brasil

China Telecom

Credit Suisse

Ernst & Young








China Telecom, Credit Suisse, Kellogg’s, RBC, Sinopec and TD already appear in BRANDZ or Interbrand’s top 100, so the real newbies are Banco do Brasil, Ernst & Young, ING, MUFG, and Softbank (which, incidentally, is not a bank).

Brands that dropped out of the Brand Finance top 100:







Goldman Sachs



Time Warner Cable


Apple maintained top spot, as well as the accolade of America’s Most Admired Company in Fortune’s Top 50 (see my earlier post for an analysis of what Apple’s brand stands for).  Despite my earlier prediction, Facebook actually fell 95 places, from 102 to 197 on the list, and saw a dramatic 37% decline in value. On first glance, this sits uncomfortably against its 74% increase in value in BRANDZ and rise into 69th place in the Interbrand top 100.  But this is likely due to the different times of year that the studies are conducted (results are launched in May for BRANDZ, hence data collection was prior to the IPO, October for Interbrand, with data collection before that), coupled with the different valuation approaches.

It will be interesting to see how BRANDZ value Facebook in a couple of months time given that their approach, of the three, is based to the highest extent on consumer research.