1. Difference Makes the Difference
drives Brand Value
In a world of so much product
sameness, being different makes
a difference. Brands consumers
view as "Different" generally
achieve higher Brand Value.
Over the past 10 years, the brands valued
both in 2006 and 2015, which ranked
in the top half of the BrandZ™ Top 100
Most Valuable Global Brands, achieved an
average Difference score of 139 and grew
124 percent in Brand Value. In contrast,
brands in the bottom half of the ranking
scored 96 in Difference and increased only
24 percent in Brand Value (An average
Difference score is 100).
How brands achieve difference varies.
The top-scoring brands on Difference
are also seen as creative, in control and
trustworthy. But it's not enough to be
different just for the sake of being different.
Difference needs to correspond to the
brand proposition. Brands need to be
different with a purpose that's inspiring and
relevant to consumers.
The fast food, retail and technology
categories are highest in Difference overall.
Global banks and soft drinks are lowest
– although individual brands buck the
trend, such as Chase Bank and Red Bull.
The possibility of being seen as different is
open to any brand in all categories.
Difference is vitally important. It impacts how much money a brand
makes and the sustainability of the brand's value and profit growth.
A category leader - like Coca-Cola or BMW - needs to guard leadership
and keep refreshing the brand message to be always unique. An
innovator like Apple needs to constantly lead the innovation curve. In
the digital era, all brands need to increase meaningful difference to
engage consumers and increase Brand Power.
2. Brand Becomes More Important
Strongest brands survive
during challenging times
Brand Power proved crucial
during the past 10 years. The
decade divided roughly into two
halves, before and after the global
financial crisis. No category was
spared as consumers spent more
cautiously and consciously.
High Brand Power helped brands survive
and even flourish during this turmoil.
Brand Power is the BrandZ™ measure of
one aspect of brand equity, a consumer's
predisposition to purchase a particular
brand. In 2006, the BrandZ™ Global Top
100 brands achieved an average Brand
Power score of 142. By 2015 that score had
increased to 170 (A score of 100 is average).
Newcomer brands in part drove the
increase in Global Top 100 Brand Power
scores. Brands entering the Global Top 100
since 2006 score 176 in Brand Power, on
average. The average score of brands that
dropped from the ranking since 2006 is 135.
In fact, 135 is a high score, but not high
enough to remain in the increasingly
competitive BrandZ™ Global Top 100
ranking with valuable newcomer brands
that effectively build Salience and
Meaningful Difference, the key components
of Brand Power.
Brand Power helps sustain and grow Brand Value and
profitability. Given the amount of market disruption, brand
should become more important, even in categories, such
as banks or oil and gas, where financial performance, rather
than brand historically has driven Brand Value. In the digital
era, brands need to be more meaningfully different to
engage with consumers and achieve higher Brand Power.
3. Purpose Builds Equity
Clear purpose fast tracks
Having a clear brand purpose
accelerates the growth of brand
equity, the factor that predisposes a
consumer to purchase a particular
brand, or to pay more for it, or both.
Purpose essentially means having a reason
for being beyond making money. At its basic
level, brand purpose is about improving the
life of the consumer in some way – making
it easier, richer or more interesting, for
At its most fully formed and ideal level,
brand purpose not only improves the life
of the consumer but also contributes to
making the world better. Achieving this ideal
level is not only a good thing to do, but is
also smart for brand building.
Strong brands depend on difference.
Difference is harder to achieve today, when
competitors provide comparable brand
functionality and even emotional appeal.
Brand purpose, especially a higher purpose,
becomes a differentiator.
Because consumers will continue
to expect more from brands, having
a purpose is not really optional.
But brand purpose cannot be
invented. It must be genuine to
the brand, inspire the employees,
be relevant to the consumer and
clearly communicated. Done right,
brand purpose helps sustain brands
through the inevitable market
4. Branding Precedes Advertising
Perfect the proposition,
then communicate it
Two things are critical for
building and sustaining valuable
brands: a clear, resonant
brand idea or proposition,
and compelling advertising.
In combination, the two
components drive Brand Value
The brands that consumers say have a
strong brand proposition and excellent
advertising grew 168 percent in Brand
Value over the past 10 years. But strong
brand proposition comes first. Brands
with a strong brand proposition but
lacked excellent advertising grew just 76
percent over 10 years.
And the other way around, brands
with strong advertising but not much
of a brand-proposition story to tell
appreciated only 27 percent in Brand
Value. Brands that consumers said
performed poorly both in brand
proposition and advertising grew only 21
percent in 10 years.
A clear and well-communicated brand
proposition drives brand value. Deficiency
can be costly, since each percentage
point of brand value increase – or
decrease – represents billions of dollars.
Focusing first on creating a meaningful and compelling brand proposition, and then a
Big Idea for Communication and advertising it, is the most efficient and effective way
to build Brand Value and receive the greatest effectiveness and return on marketing
investment. How to ensure a brand’s proposition remains to be Meaningful to the
consumers and how to execute the proposition throughout the organization to
deliver consistent brand experience are the key challenges for many brands.
5. Innovation Drives Brand Value
viewed as Different
Consumers see innovative brands
– brands that set trends – as
Different and as leaders. These
perceptions pay significant
dividends in brand value growth.
Over the past 10 years, brands that
scored highest in the BrandZ™
trend-setting metric increased an
average of 161 percent in Brand
Value. Brands that scored lowest
increased only 13 percent.
When consumers score a brand high in
trend-setting, they typically view it as
creative, different, desirable, adventurous or
assertive. The trend-setters include many
technology brands, but not exclusively. Nike,
UPS and PayPal score high in the BrandZ™
Trendsetter Index, for example.
Trend-setting brands share in common the
determination to understand the needs of
consumers, the ability to identify the gaps
where needs are going unmet, and the
willingness to take the creative leaps and
risks required to close those gaps with new
products and services.
Brands need to set trends to win. They need to become leaders through innovation.
Especially as categories become more competitive, being a trendsetter means
being seen as different, which is increasingly difficult but critical for brand value
growth. The difference needs to be noticeable, relevant to the customer, genuine
for the brand and matched with a big creative idea. Brands need to be forward-looking
and can deliver innovative product and experiences beyond consumers’
expectation at more acceptable prices. Even without breakthrough products,
brands still need to make sure their communications look and feel innovative.
6. Love Isn't All You Need, But It's Powerful
Loved brands grow
value at faster pace
Brands can’t survive on love
alone. But love has a multiplier
effect. Brands that are loved by
consumers increase more rapidly
in Brand Value – and the impact is
substantial. Over the past 10 years,
the rise in value for brands scoring
high in the BrandZ™ "Love" metric
was 10 times greater than the value
rise for brands scoring low in Love.
Love measures the emotional affinity of
a brand. It’s not simply about making the
brand warm and friendly, although that’s
fine, if it’s genuine. Rather, love usually
follows great performance. Brands from
across categories score high in love, from a
payment system like Visa to fast-food giant
KFC to Baidu, the Chinese search engine.
Sometimes brands do all the right things but
are not highly loved. Then love is an area to
boost, because love is a key component of
making a brand meaningful. Loved brands
exist in partnership with their customers
and try to understand the world from the
customer’s point of view.
Love alone is not enough. But when
love is part of the full package
of efficacy and purpose, and
communication is humane in tone,
love can strengthen brand loyalty
and drive brand value growth.
Sustaining love depends to a large
degree on continuous and genuine
7. Innovation and Love Form a Virtuous Circle
Love and innovation go together
like a horse and carriage. They
separately drive brand value
growth. But together they form a
virtuous circle that balances brands
with qualities that help ensure
long-term survival and success.
Brands seen as innovative are more likely to
be loved. Love provides the space brands
need to innovate while still functioning
effectively day to day in the unremitting
pressure of the marketplace.
Consumers often become infatuated with
the newest, shiniest product. That’s fine
for brands looking for a fling. But it's not
enough to sustain brand value growth over
the potentially long lifetime of a great brand.
Even the most trend-setting brands
experience swings between periods of
intensive innovation and periods of iterative
progress. Love provides the forgiveness
necessary when a brand’s cycle of creative
development is out of sync with consumer
From the consumer view, some
brands are more innovative and
others more lovable. For the brand
it doesn’t have to be an either-or
situation. Even the strongest brands
gain greater stability and long-term
resilience from a healthy balance of
innovation and love.
8. Trusted or Busted
Repaired trust adds
brand power, value
Consumers may try a brand once
or twice but they won’t stay with
it if they don’t trust it. A brand's
good behavior over time builds
trust. Once the trust reservoir is
filled, consumers are more likely
to recommend a brand, assuming
that its current behavior matches
Brands can lose trust. And, most important,
brands can restore trust. The possibility
of restoring trust became important as
brands recovered from the global financial
crisis. Not only is it possible to restore
trust, but greater trust also correlates with
greater Brand Value, Brand Power and
A comparison between the 10 BrandZ™
Global Top 100 brands that improved most
in trust over the past decade and 10 brands
that declined most in trust revealed that the
trust improvers significantly outperformed
the trust decliners in the growth of Brand
Value, Brand Power and Brand Difference.
The 10 trust improvers came from many
categories and include brands such as Apple
and Domino’s Pizza. Not surprisingly, global
banks dominate the trust decliner group.
It’s possible to repair trust. And repaired trust makes a big
difference to Brand Value, Brand Power and Difference.
Conversely, when trust erodes – and is not repaired – both
Brand Value and Brand Power are negatively impacted.
9. A World of Difference
and regionals, Salient
The brands that comprise the
BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable
Global Brands are by definition
the most international brands
in the world. Not surprisingly,
about two-thirds of the brands
are multinational in the broadest
sense, with businesses that extend
across the globe. The businesses
of the remaining one-third cross
borders too, but primarily within
the surrounding region.
Both kinds of brands achieve high value. But
the average Brand Value of multinational
brands is about 25 percent higher than that
of regional brands. Multinational brands
are older and involved in wider activities.
Most interesting, multinational and regional
brands achieve their Brand Power in
Multinational brands excel in being seen
as Different. That’s because wherever a
multinational brand competes, it usually
faces a regional brand leader setting the
category standard. The regional brands
trade on Salience because they’re present,
widely distributed and heavily advertised.
They’re Meaningful because of their local
Consumers also view the regional brands
as more responsible, probably because
the brands are more connected with the
regions that they serve. Consumers view
multinational brands as responsible too, but
not to the same extent.
It’s critical for the multinational brands to emphasize their difference and
to make that difference relevant in each regional market in which they
compete. To be more accepted in each regional market, multinational
brands need to act responsibly and guard against the perception that big
is automatically bad. Regional brands with aspirations to be multinational
need to understand the basis of their meaningful difference, how exportable
it is, and how it enables the brand to fit in or disrupt new markets.
10. Value Rises in Asia
Brand Value in China
up 10-fold in 10 years
North America, home to the
BrandZ™ Top 10 Most Valuable
Global Brands, still comprises two-thirds
of the total Brand Value of
the BrandZ™ Top 100. That Brand
Value increased over 137 percent
during the past 10 years, a slightly
faster growth rate than the Top 100
The Brand Value of brands based in the UK
and Continental Europe also grew, but more
modestly over the last 10 years. The value
of brands from Australia and from Asian
markets, including Japan and South Korea,
also steadily appreciated.
During the same period, however, the
number of Chinese brands represented in
the BrandZ™ Global Top 100 increased from
just one in 2006 to 14 in 2015, and the total
Brand Power of Chinese brands increased
In just a decade, China developed from
representing only minimal Brand Value in
the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global
brands to being the second center of Brand
Value growth after North America.
The competitive landscape is about to change. Chinese brands have so far built value
in their home market. But the examples of the technology brand Huawei, and Alibaba,
the e-commerce leader, suggest that Chinese brands are following the same arc as
Japanese and South Korean brands, moving from low-cost manufacturing to added
value, and from regional to multinational. Most Chinese brands will expand first to
other fast-growing markets, and these brands move quickly. Many brands from fast-growing
markets have already become the key competitors against western brands at
the local level. Some of them are turning into key global competitors.