The route to Meaningful Difference
It is clear that Meaningful Difference gives brands a clear advantage over their competitors, contributing to strong brand value and greater ability to manage in times of crisis.
So, how do brands improve their Meaningful Difference? Well, they need to work on their health and, just as there are many contributors to human wellbeing, there are multiple factors that play a part in developing the health of a brand.
BrandZ analysis has identified five key attributes shared by strong, healthy, valuable and Meaningfully Different brands.
Five ways to vitality and value
Brand health starts with having a purpose; something a brand does that makes people’s lives better. The brands in the Spanish Top 30 with the strongest purposes scores are Repsol, Mercadona, Iberia, Zara and LaLiga.
Brands must be innovative, ideally in a way that underlines that purpose, which means they’re seen as leading the way in their sector and shaking things up. Think here of Repsol, Mercadona, Iberia, Zara and Mapfre.
They must also be creative, with powerful, memorable advertising and communications. Again, the leader in the Spanish Top 30 is Repsol, followed by El Corte Ingles, LaLiga, Iberdrola and Iberia.
They provide a great brand experience that meets consumers’ needs, and is available when and where consumers need it. Repsol leads the Top 30 on experience, with LaLiga, Mercadona, Iberia and Zara rounding out the Top 5.
Over time, consumers develop a strong sense of love towards the brand. Innovation often leads to love, and love can help sustain a brand during the gaps between innovations. Repsol is the most loved brand in the Top 30 this year, with LaLiga in second place, then Mercadona, Iberia and Zara.
When a brand is strong on all five of these attributes (scoring significantly above average), they have healthy “vital signs” and we say they’re healthy brands overall. We combine scores on each of the five elements into a single “Vitality Quotient”, or vQ score, which serves as a summary of its health.
If a brand is lacking in any one area, it is at risk of damaging its brand health and underperforming in the market. If it struggles on all five measures (a score of 99 or less compared to an average score for all brands of 100), it is classed as being “frail”.
The brands that feature in the Spanish Top 30 ranking are among the healthiest in the country, performing better on all aspects of vQ than average in the country. And while Spanish brands’ vQ performance is broadly in line with the other “old Europe” markets, they lag some way behind the more dynamic brand markets in the US and Asia.
What’s encouraging is that the Top 30 Spanish brands are faring better on all five elements of vQ than they were two years ago. This shows that Spanish brands are highly capable of making the changes they need in order to thrive; they just need to keep doing it.
These results indicate that consumers know what brands’ purpose is, but they don’t necessarily feel it because that purpose is not being translated into the brand experience. Brands’ challenge now is to turn their purpose into amazing experiences that ultimately lead to love.
The value of improving a brand’s performance on all the elements of vQ is clear. Comparison of the stronger and weaker brands in the Spanish Top 30 shows that the brands that suffered less as a result of this year’s harsh conditions were the best performers on all five contributors to a strong vQ score. Those with lower scores saw bigger drops in their BrandZ brand value.
Running Smoothly – Spotlight on Repsol
Ranking in Spanish Top 30: 8
Brand Value 2020: US$2,176 million
Repsol leads the Spanish Top 30 on every one of the five factors that make up vQ. Why? It is the undisputed leader in its category, it has huge scale and Salience, but it is also highly innovative. Having built its name in motor fuel and lubricants, it entered the electricity market in 2018 and is developing solar and wind-powered sources of energy. Its communications campaign, "The future does not stop, neither do we", links with Repsol’s commitment to achieve zero emissions by 2050.
Why it’s time to think differently
Innovation is a great way that brands can differentiate themselves from other brands in their category, and is particularly useful for heritage brands as a way of showing that they might be old, but are just as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
There are three aspects of innovation, and strength in any or – ideally – all of them can help boost a brand’s reputation for innovation. They are: Disruption, Creativity and Leading the way.
Innovation is not about saying goodbye to a rich history in order to be cool and current; meaningful, powerful innovation is about leading a category and offering something fresh and creative – being brave in undertaking something new, and then being bold enough to promote it, so that the innovation is recognized by consumers.
Ideas by the trolley-load
Spotlight on Mercadona
Ranking in Spanish Top 30: 10
Brand Value 2020: $1,748 million
Value change 2019-2020: -4%
Mercadona has scale on its side, with more than 1,600 stores across the country making it Spain’s leading supermarket and hypermarket chain. But the brand succeeds not just because it is big and well-known, but because it is behind a regular stream of innovations that keep the offer fresh and interesting and position Mercadona as the sector leader. Mercadona advertising refers to customers as “the boss”, it has a strong private label range, and the shopping experience regularly gets a refresh, with e-commerce options expanding this year.