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Global 100 Take Aways

10 insights for growing brand value


1. Know each customer It’s time to revise the adage the customer comes first. Today, each customer comes first. Working to achieve that goal will improve business. It’s about analyzing dots of data that together reveal each customer’s shopping needs. In the insurance category, many brands that created one-size-fits-all products now are trying to be more customer centric. They analyze data to understand individual customers and identify key lifetime events and insurance opportunities.

2. Be meaningfully different Being different in a meaningful way means that customers understand the brand and the advantages that it offers relative to the competition. It’s not easy to establish meaningful difference. But it’s important as one of the crucial drivers of brand equity, the influence a brand has over the inclination to purchase.

3. Be mindfully present In a world noisy with brand messages it can be difficult to be seen and heard. Digital and social media are important places to represent the brand. But use discretion. Be present where it makes sense for the brand. Intruding uninvited into conversations risks seeming like a clueless party guest. The encounter might be memorable but unhelpful. Comment when it’s appropriate and be authentic.

4. Be agile Planning is important. The stakes are too high and it’s the rare brand that improvises its way to success. But the strategy drafted in the boardroom needs constant market reality testing. Planning and flexibility make a good marriage.

5. Stay relevant There’s an ongoing tension between respecting a brand’s heritage and keeping the brand up to date. Keeping the brand up to date doesn’t mean presenting the brand as something it isn’t. It’s great if a brand story is exciting and inspiring. But it’s most important that the story is fact, not fiction.

6. Keep your eyes open Spend time on thought leadership. As brands navigate through disruption and transformation, knowledge is vital. It’s useful to see what’s going on in other places, particularly in the fast growing markets where sometimes, because necessity is greater, so is invention. The use of mobile for payments and banking in China is one important example.

7. Employ technology for competitive advantage In most categories technology is either a driver or disrupter or both. The fusion of apparel and technology into wearables is one example. Because the impact of technology is unavoidable today, brands face a clear choice: risk finding ways to achieve an advantage using technology, or do nothing and risk that your competitors will do something.

8. Stand for a purpose beyond profit Given a choice, people want to associate with brands they feel good about, brands that “Do no evil,” as Google asserts. And even do some good. “Smarter Planet” works for IBM. But if you’re not one of the world’s most valuable brands, it’s OK and more believable to focus on improving the part of the planet that you touch. The purpose needs to be brand relevant, important to customers and pursued diligently.

9. Invest in brands There’s a quantifiable return on investment in brands. Some of the return is felt at the register. Some of it is in the share price. In the eight years since we introduced the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, our BrandZ™ Strong Brand Portfolio has appreciated 81.1 percent compared with a 44.7 improvement in the S&P 500.

10. Execute The last few years were good for planning and putting in place new strategies, as consumers caught their breath and regained confidence following the financial collapse and recession. Consumers are back. It’s time to execute.