We have been monitoring the value of the great brands around the globe for a full seven years now. But this year, we saw a first—the value of the world’s best brands barely inched up! In this edition of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report, you’ll see that the aggregate value of the world’s most powerful brands grew a mere 0.4%. This compares to 17% growth last year and 4% growth even on the heels of 2009’s Great Recession.
So what gives? Is the era of brand power coming to an end? Hardly. There were some spectacular growth stories in 2011. By the time this report is off the presses, our fastest growing brand, Facebook will have completed its IPO and likely our valuation will need to be adjusted upward. We expect a stratospheric valuation as individuals and institutions clamour to own a little piece of the social media titan. Luxury goods with the likes of Hermès and Rolex saw spectacular double digit growth in spite of anaemic market conditions. And our rankings celebrate a number of “comeback kids,” including Starbucks and Home Depot, who surged forward after regaining their footing. Exciting new brands emerged on the scene, including our first African brand, the teleco giant MTN.
Emerging markets—a term that feels increasingly inaccurate and clichéd—remained a cause for enthusiasm, but also made us pause and think about where growth will come from when these red-hot markets cool. 2011 saw a possible harbinger of things to come, as softer stock markets in China and Brazil resulted in lower growth of enterprise value. In spite of this, our sentiment is that brands become even more important in periods of low growth. Competition will inevitably heat up as companies seek share growth in lieu of overall market growth. The great thing about powerful brands is the ability to play defence and offence. In tough times, a powerful brand protects us from competitive incursions and in good times, it provides a meaningful platform on which to grow.
This year, we saw the growing importance of meaning. For years we’ve known that consumers seek more from brands than just functional benefits. They’ve long formed emotional bonds with the brands they choose. But increasingly, we’re seeing those connections reserved for brands that consumers can be proud to call their “friends”— brands with ideals and those that operate to a higher moral and social standard. It’s at the heart of brand trust and even brand love. Those who betray this trust will inevitably lose the love.
We hope you’ll enjoy this report with our compliments. We continue on our journey of brand learning and we hope you’ll benefit from what we’re discovering. Do let us know how our teams at Millward Brown and Millward Brown Optimor can put our culture of curiosity to work for you!
With warmest regards,
Global CEO, Millward Brown