There are some brands that punch above their weight in BrandZ rankings because they score well on a measure we call “Brand Contribution.”
Brand Contribution is a score between one and five that measures the influence of the brand alone. The Brand Contribution score assigned to a brand is the result of extensive consumer research, so it reflects current sentiment among consumers towards a brand.
The inclusion of brand contribution scores in the formula used to generate brand value is one of the key ways that BrandZ rankings are distinguished from other brand valuation methodologies. BrandZ is the only ranking that uses online and face-to-face interviews with consumers to quantify the place that brands occupy in people’s hearts and minds.
We can show how brand contribution works by looking at numbers 41 and 42 on the Top 100, JP Morgan and Pampers. Financially, there is no comparison between the two, with JP Morgan Chase ’s 2017 revenue of nearly $100 billion dwarfing not only Pampers’ revenue but that of the entire baby diaper segment in the US, which is a $6.2 billion business.
Nonetheless, Pampers is nipping at J.P. Morgan’s heels in brand value, due to its extraordinarily high scores for brand contribution.
When looking at brand contribution, the most highly ranked brands scream everyday use. They are the makeup we put on, the channels we watch, and the detergent we put into our washing machines. Many are also highly sensory. Consumers know the feeling of a Pampers diaper, the heft of a bottle of Tide, or the unique taste of Coke. We marvel and the visual richness of Game of Thrones and sing along with the wonderful songs in Moana.
Many of these brands have also built massive salience, or presence in consumers’ minds, not merely because they dominate their categories, but because they were at one time the only brand in their categories. HBO was the first pay TV service in the country. Pampers was the first nationally-distributed diaper, as was Tide for the detergent category. Gillette invented the safety razor. Disney produced the feature-length animated film widely seen in the country.
Some of these brands are, of course, face challenging times. Like all CPG brands in the country, many are being negatively impacted by a strong dollar around the world. They are also facing challenges from upstart brands in an era where middle class buying power is being decimated by rising healthcare and education costs. However, they are also brands showing the greatest resilience. Pampers and Tide are now the only brands in their categories in the Top 100, even though each faces a variety of strong competitors.
Fast risers lead into CX
Several of the top brands by brand contributions are dominant players, and as a result, growth in their brand value is constrained by their ubiquity. But three of these brands are the fastest rising in their categories: FedEx, PayPal, and Estée Lauder. While these may seem like a disjointed bunch, they echo what we’ve seen with other top brands: each is enabling a common trend towards better customer experiences.
PayPal and FedEx, for example, are important supporters of the consumer revolution around convenient commerce. Each is contributing to a seamless experience for a wide range of consumers around purchase and delivery.
Estée Lauder (BrandZ values the Estée Lauder brand, not the parent company) is a venerable cosmetics brand, yet unlike many of its peers, it leaned early and heavily into the digital and CX revolution. It was among the earliest adopters of many trends, including social outreach, influencer strategies, and direct-to-consumer sales. It has been especially successful with approachable videos that show how to get the most out of its products. As a result, with the right strategy even an old school brand can thrive in an increasingly fragmented landscape.
Ways to Win
Innovate obsessively around the customer experience. While FedEx may not jump to mind when it comes to customer facing innovation, the company is working on many fronts—robotics, blockchain, and automation—to ensure that it remains top of mind when it comes to customer service.
Lead with purpose. Many customers today expect brands not merely to provide goods and services but to reflect their values. Coca-Cola has been firm and unwavering with its support of inclusivity, which it has backed up with actions that have won it numerous awards for its diverse and welcoming workplace.
Enable people to live better lives. Clinique and Estée Lauder are among the foremost brands in their categories for partnering with influencers and helping teach consumers how to get the most out of their products.
Express your heritage. Brands should embrace what has traditionally made them themselves. Strongly communicating your history, founders, and the values behind them is one of the best ways to build brand contribution scores.
Theory in Action
You hardly need to read the headlines to know that the United States is a disaster-prone country. It leads the world in dangerous tornadoes, with more than 1,000 recorded every year (the UK actually has more tornadoes per land area, but they are less dangerous). The US is also a happy hunting ground for floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and violent earthquakes. As a result, its citizens are from time to time faced with temporary homelessness and long-term power outages.
Tide responds to this with a bold sense of purpose. Since 2005, its Loads of Hope program has sent mobile clothes washing stations into disaster areas to bring people hope—and a clean basket of laundry. To date, this program has helped 48,000 families across the country.