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Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2009 : Analysis

21 October 2009

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It’s one of the most expected rankings in the media. Today, the consultancy firm Interbrand released its Best Global Brandsranking, which values the “earningsdue to the superior demand created for its products and services through the strength of it’s brand“(p.23). In the introduction, Jez Frampton, Global Chief Executive of the firm, states that “brands provide a degree of security in times of economic instability“(p.3). The report doesn’t take a narrower look to the possible decrease of branded products’ sales (due to their higher price), but the emphasis seems to be put on trust, and on the “exponential shift in social and consumer networking“(p.3). It’s one of the trends approached, in the document…

The experts who contributed to the report insist on several points, like the competitive advantages that a strong brandrepresents for a company. And the current crisis can be beneficial for some of them, who can create “competitive distance” to their competitors. For these weak ones, the crisis is an opportunity to “cast off the ineffeciencies, and cultures that kept them down“(p.4), that’s what the authors call The Cleansing Fire. One example is given by the clothing-industry : when Zara is now famous for supply chain innovation, constantly changing assortment and a clear brand focus, its competitor GAP by failing to evolve with the customer and issuing assortments which consistently missed the mark. Innovation and renewal is also what led Nike to be a global leader today, and Toyota to exceed GM on the world scale.

Another very important trend is the evolution of the customers’ expectations toward brands. “Your customer wants in” says the text, stressing the role of the internet in this social evolution. in a “seamless world“, physical barriers are vanishing and consumers want to play an active role in product conception and promotion. By the way, it’s the first time I hear about the 5P’s(Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Package)! We always implemented the packaging aspect into the product definition. Anyway… So social networking is getting more and more important, there’s even a ranking for this : the Engagementdb 2009 report ranks brands by engagement with their communities through social media. This year’s winner is Starbucks. The aim is to acquire a “passionate group of evangelists, who will genuinely spread the good word about what you do“(p.7).

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Other trends are mentionned : sustainability, the return to luxury’s core values, and experiential marketing. In an age in which we are overwhelmed by messages (not only advertising, also mails, text messages etc.), real human interaction has been underemphasized by brands. That’s why Leslie Butterfield, author of one of the report’s articles, called “The Experience Revolution“, advocates to get back to the basics : “Consumers needs this memorable, multisensory experiences to fully engage with a brand“(p.12). This can be applied by designing attractive stores (H&M, IKEA, Apple etc.) or by organising realevents, like the Nike+ Human Race that gathered 80,000 people in 142 countries last year !

Nike is quoted in another article of the report, this time concerning global brand design. The “visual and verbal expression (of Nike) varies more than most brands“, while the universal message is consistent : “If you have a body, you are an athlete“. That’s how Paola Norambuena, head of Verbal Identity, sees successful cultural adaptation. Powerful brand expressions “are universally understood“. The requested experts give some good examples : Apple, Veuve Clicquot, BMW, Nintendo and Disney.

2009 Rank 2008 Rank Brand Country of Origin Sector 2009 Brand Value ($m) Change in Brand Value
1 1 Coca-Cola United States Beverages 68,734 3%
2 2 IBM United States Computer Services 60,211 2%
3 3 Microsoft United States Computer Software 56,647 -4%
4 4 GE United States Diversified 47,777 -10%
5 5 Nokia Finland Consumer Electronics 34,864 -3%
6 8 McDonald's United States Restaurants 32,275 4%
7 10 Google United States Internet Services 31,980 25%
8 6 Toyota Japan Automotive 31,330 -8%
9 7 Intel United States Computer Hardware 30,636 -2%
10 9 Disney United States Media 28,447 -3%


The whole ranking (with report) can be downloaded on Interbrand’s website, as well as those issued in the last decade by the global consultancy firm. For those who like these marketing subjects, it’s sixty-five pages of highly interesting stuff !

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