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 reflects how well a brand differentiates itself from its competitors, generates desire, and cultivates loyalty. The Brand Contribution score a brand receives is the result of extensive consumer research, so it reflects the quantification of 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 31 and 32 on the Top 30, Aritzia and Foodland. The revenue of the latter certainly dwarfs that of the former, but because Aritzia’s fans are loud and loyal, its Brand Contribution score is much higher than that of the food retailer, which operates in a lightly differentiated category. As a result, Aritzia has a slightly higher brand value.
Brands with high Brand Contribution scores in most rankings tend to be products of everyday use and visibility. Canada’s scores are somewhat unusual in the inclusion of RBC, a bank within the top five, but otherwise, the brands follow a global pattern of being either exciting upstarts with passionate followings or old mainstays that have been around and enjoyed for years
Tim Hortons, Crown Royal, Canada Goose, and Molson Canadian are no surprises. These are beloved brands with long tenure on the country’s scene. Tim Hortons wakes up a large number of Canadians; Canada Goose keeps them warm; and the alcohol brands help them relax after a long day. Each of these brands has tangible qualities which reinforce brand awareness and affinity. They either have a particular taste or smell, or a weight that makes them much more salient in person’s mind.
Difference drives growth for high BC brands
One of the paradoxes of Brand Contribution is that having a high score does not always presage fast growth. That’s because while these are strong, well respected brands, they are often dominant players or have saturated their respective markets—and their growth in their revenue is generally constrained by their ubiquity. It would be unusual for a brand like Molson Canadian to see its high Brand Contribution score contribute to massive growth (BrandZ data rates it near the bottom of the Top 40 for Potential). That said, it should help sustain the brand in its lightly declining category with shifting public tastes towards craft brews.
On the other hand, Brand Contribution can ignite growth for smaller, less well-known brands. If a brand isn’t particularly well known, it can greatly benefit from its own strength as a brand. Three brands in the Top 40 show this off well: Aritzia, Lululemon, and Canada Goose.
Looking at these three we can discern an interesting pattern. Neither Aritzia and Lulumenon are particularly Salient to local consumers and both rate poorly in Communications. However, those customers who are aware of them love them very much. Lululemon in particular has sought to make its stores much more of an experience than a retail environment, and clearly customers are liking what they’re experiencing.
Canada Goose’s higher score for Salience in the ranking reflects its Canadian reputation; globally, where its growth prospects lie, it is far less renowned. This suggests that all three brands have a far less complicated path to growth than some. By investing in communications, they can improve their visibility and let their excellent products and experiences do the rest.
They are also all highly differentiated, with consumers seeing them as providing something distinct that they can’t get elsewhere. This can lead to pricing premiums (Canada Goose jackets sell at a high premium to the market, for example). Lululemon and Canada Goose certainly exemplify the opportunities created by high Brand Contribution scores. Aritzia is slower growing, as it is a more deliberate brand that opens unique stores, but all of these are well positioned for the future.
Ways to Win
Embrace uniqueness. Of course, this is easier said than done, but brands that can provide something people can’t get anywhere else tend to grow faster and be more resilient in the face of challenges. Uniqueness is not about a voice or stance in the marketplace; it’s about providing a concrete product, service, or experience that sets you apart.
Lead with purpose. Canadian brands with high scores for Purpose are much more valuable than those without. That’s because customers today expect brands not merely to provide goods and services but also to reflect their values. Finding a purpose is usually not hard—supporting it in a meaningful way, however, often includes aligning your entire organization behind it.
Improve the CX. Around the world, brands are disrupting categories by removing pain points in traditional experiences—think Uber, Netflix, and Jio. But all brands can study the experiences of its consumers in detail and find out where changes can be made to separate them from the pack.
Express your heritage. Brands should embrace what has traditionally made them who they are. Strongly communicating your history, founders, and the values behind them is one of the best ways to build brand contribution scores.