Top 100 worth $3.65 trillion
The combined value of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable US Brands 2019 is $3.65 trillion, a 15 percent jump over last year. Which is huge. In brand value, the US Top 100 is 19.6 percent the size of the US GDP, and if you laid its equivalent in dollar bills end to end, it’s enough to go to the moon and back—750 times.
Apple edges out Google for #1
The two most valuable US brands for the past two years, by a considerable margin, have been Apple and Google. This year, Apple managed to slip by its rival and top the rankings at a staggering $316 billion, while Google rose to a nothing-like-shabby $313 billion.
Part of the reason for Apple’s strong growth has been that it has been able to translate its stratospheric scores for difference and meaningful difference into higher pricing. While the average brand scores 100 for difference, Apple scores 240 (Google scores 130, which is also excellent). For meaningful difference, Apple is fifth in the top 100 at 167.
What’s more, if the iPhone alone were a brand, it would beat every brand in the Top 100 for meaningful difference, with a score of 187. We can easily see the value of meaningful difference in the brisk sales of the phones even at a premium price
Apple may want to look over its shoulder
Amazon was not the fastest growing brand in the Top 100 (the palm there goes to Netflix), but it was the third fastest, at 69 percent. At $279 billion, it already has the third-highest brand value, and if it can continue its white-hot growth rate, it will overtake its two technology rivals for the top place in 2020.
Like Apple, Amazon scores very highly on difference (199) and is #1 of the Top 100 for meaningful difference (181). It is seen as a disruptive force, shaking things up in a positive way for consumers. This can hardly come as a surprise as the brand established and quickly came to dominate the smart speaker category in the past few years, and is now extending its Alexa technology into cars, microwaves, and many more products.
An opportunity in experience
BrandZ now ranks brands from 45 different countries around the world, and for 11 of them it evaluates at least 30 brands. This allows us to make Top 30 comparisons that show the strengths of a nation’s brands.
To do so, we can look at the five components of each country’s Vitality Quotient, or vQ, a BrandZ measure of brand health. On three of the five measures, the US is where its citizens like to think of it: at #1. Its brands lead the pack in perceived innovation, strength of communications, and the depth of the emotional attachment they generate with consumers.
However, US brands score most highly on difference (even though they are slightly edged by Indonesia for #2), making them among the most different brands in the world.
Oddly, the one area in which the United States lags its global peers is Brand Experience. This appears to be happening as many US brands are transitioning from a world in which strong advertising largely drove salience and meaning in consumers’ minds to one in which every touchpoint becomes an opportunity to increase brand value. It’s worth pointing out that the US score of 112 on the measure is still very good, but for some brands this may be an area of opportunity in the Land of Opportunity.
Innovation and Brand Experience create meaningful difference
Even though the United States lags some of its global peers in brand experience, great experiences are nonetheless making the largest contribution to meaningful difference. Some of the biggest, newest, and fastest-rising brands in the Top 100—Amazon, Apple, and Uber among them—all score very highly on this measure.
There’s more to the story too. In the US, brand experience correlates very strongly with innovation, which has traditionally been the biggest contributor to meaningful difference. Of the top ten brands for innovation, eight are also in the top ten for Brand Experience. And brands that are perceived as both innovative and providing a great brand experience grew 2.4x as fast as those that are not.
We can see the value of Innovation and Brand Experience through Uber, which has come to be known for the easy experience it provides for ride hailing, and, increasingly, the incredible variety and undeniable convenience of its services. This year it is #1 among the Top 100 in Innovation and Brand Experience—as well as brand health (vQ) overall. Uber wins by the sheer volume of its inventiveness, producing services that target even niche markets, such as equipping its on-demand cars with child car seats or Uber Eats, which is slowly upending the restaurant industry.
Netflix (+93 percent), PayPal (+88 percent) and Amazon (+69 percent) are the three fastest growing brands vs. 2018. While they belong to different categories, they are all leveraging technology in their own way to deliver a variety of ever more convenient and fulfilling ways to make payments, connect consumers with entertainment, and generally make life better.
In addition, four other brands have increased their Brand Value more than half: Instagram, Adobe, Mastercard, and Whole Foods. Mastercard belongs to the fastest-growing category, payments, while Whole Foods may be basking in the glow of its new parent company. But all are thriving by providing meaningfully different products and services—and making sure consumers know about them.
A high mountain to climb
It has gotten much harder for brands to make the US Top 100. This years’ #100 brand is Chipotle, but its brand value is 22 percent higher than the #100 brand last year. Newcomers also greatly outpaced brands that have dropped from the rankings.
Top 5 learnings for marketers
1 Innovate around customer experience
By itself, innovation used to be the key to brand health. Now, brands should start thinking about innovating in ways that drive the customer experience forward in new and exciting ways. Every touchpoint has now become a battleground for consumers’ hearts and minds, and the brands that manage to break new ground and provide things consumers never knew they would love, like Amazon with Echo, often soar above the rest.
2 Communicate your value
If a brand builds a great experience and no one experiences it, does it drive brand value? Not at all. Salience is a key driver of brand health. It measures how quickly a customer recognizes a brand and understands what it does and stands for. Of course, it is getting harder and harder to break through the clutter of communications today, so using data thoughtfully and looking for unusual places and ways to connect with your audiences may be the best strategy.
3 Lead with purpose
BrandZ research defines “purpose” as making people’s lives better in some way. That can be through products, actions, or even words. But it’s most effective when it grows naturally out of the brand’s offerings. For example, Visa’s purpose is to be universally available and everywhere people are. To drive home that message, it sponsors a wide range of major events around the world—at places we’d all like to be.
4 Take a sensible stand
Consumers used to find it discordant to hear brands weigh in on social issues. No longer. In a divided world, they increasingly expect brands to share their values. To do so, it’s more important than ever to communicate not merely what you sell, but also what you stand for. And most of all, in an era increasingly defined by movements like #MeToo, which has shaken brands that failed to live up to their values, put policies in place that back up your words with your culture.
5 Dare to be different
From top to bottom, American brands are defined by difference. The top 10 brands are more different than the top 20, the top 20 more different than the top 30. Brands should dare to strike out in new directions, differentiating their offerings through unique products and services, digital platforms that provide value beyond the purchase, or other surprising ways for a consumer to experience a brand.