Coca-Cola claims the number one spot, again, while technology dominates and luxury brands continue to shine in Interbrand’s 2011 Best Global Brands report.
Coca-Cola leads the pack for the 12th consecutive year. Apple is this year’s top riser and, for the first time, enters the top ten list in eighth position. Interbrand produces its Best Global Brands report each year using three key components: financial performance, role of brand and brand strength.
Due to the economic volatility that has characterized 2011, brands are having to constantly adapt and change to stay on top. “Uncertainty is the new status quo, so today’s brands need to be quick and nimble,” noted Interbrand CEO Jez Frampton. “Consistency, relevance and commitment are imperative if a brand is to keep pace in our rapidly changing world.”
This year’s top 100 brands show that, despite the erratic economic landscape, they are constantly listening, flexing, evolving and innovating – to meet the changing needs of today’s consumer. “By refining digital strategies and strengthening social networks, today’s most valuable brands are creating more relevant customer engagements. These brands have seized opportunities to host richer, more tailored experiences, which, in turn, help drive longer-term loyalty and value among consumers and partners alike,” noted Frampton.
This year, technology brands continued to dominate. Seven of the top ten brands (IBM, Microsoft, Google, GE, Intel, Apple and Hewlett-Packard), four of the five biggest risers (Apple, Amazon.com, Google and Samsung) and the one of the few new entrants to the Best Global Brands report (HTC, the mobile device maker in Taiwan) all hail from the tech sector. A few highlights include:
- IBM, coming in at number two, is one of the foremost global B2B companies. This highlights the increasing importance of brand in the B2B space. A strong brand presence is not only crucial to driving sales at the retail cash register, but also in driving business-to-business purchase decisions as well.
- Amazon.com, at number 26, has become one of the world’s strongest brands in record time – jumping 32 percent in brand value year-over-year. Much of Amazon’s recent success can be directly attributed to its strong sales of the Kindle and e-books. By identifying a consumer need ahead of competitors and quickly developing the technology to meet that need, Amazon managed to create a new revenue stream — one that bolstered both its original business model and, correspondingly, its brand value.
- HTC, at 98, made its first appearance in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report this year. HTC, a company that recently shifted from B2B to B2C, is focusing on increasing consumer awareness, establishing partnerships with more established brands and enhancing its digital brand strategy – all of which make it a brand to watch in the year ahead.
The past year was marked by huge growth in the auto industry, mainly driven by an economic recovery in classic European markets, and China’s growing demand.
- Nissan Motor (90th), Japan’s second largest carmaker, returns to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report for the first time since 2007. Nissan was able to restock inventories faster than its competitors immediately following the earthquake that devastated Japan last March. In doing so, Nissan exhibited great resiliency during a difficult time for both the company and its home country – and managed to increase its brand value as a result.
- Toyota (11th) retains its position as the number one automotive brand in Interbrand’s 2011 report. Like Nissan, Toyota exhibited great resiliency by increasing its brand value by six percent. Even though Toyota faced both an internal crisis (lack of quality control in 2010) and an external crisis (Japan’s earthquake), it forged ahead by focusing on safety and quality, modifying its leadership structure and capitalizing on its world-renown green efforts.
Luxury’s consistent strength this year is the result of a number of factors, not least by the brands ability to portray themselves as trusted names amid the global economic turmoil. Frampton explains that luxury brands do well during the recession because consumers have been drawn to authenticity – and for companies in the luxury arena, authenticity is in their DNA. Luxury brands have also put a lot of emphasis on differentiating themselves and engaging customers. Burberry has devoted particular attention to its digital presence, introducing an online service for customers who want to create their own customized Burberry wear.
Could Kiwi brands ever make the list? Definitely, says James Bickford, Interbrand NZ’s MD. “Fonterra has great brand potential, despite the fact it’s very much a business to business brand and has quite a low profile outside its own industry.”
Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings himself says ‘Fonterra could make New Zealand dairy capital of the world.’ New Zealand is small and isolated but that shouldn’t stop it from producing global brands. “Small nations can come up with the best global brands – just look at Nokia, from Finland and H&M from Sweden,” Bickford says “Nokia isn’t sold with a Finnish feel. New Zealand has the opportunity to develop a global brand, but we must think global.”
“Navman had the potential, because it wasn’t seen as a Kiwi brand, it was seen as a global brand.”
Someone in New Zealand could be developing the next big thing right now, says Bickford. But we need to open up our thinking. We have an immense pool of talent, we’re innovative, and we’re known for our ability to be quick and nimble. “Dell was created in a shed. Facebook in a student’s room. Innovation is the key, and collaboration. we just need to pool our resources, collaborate our talent and intel, and potentially build a global brand using local DNA.”