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The Vital Signs of Brand Success

by Peter Walshe

Good health is everything


Peter Walshe,

BrandZ™ Global Strategy Director,

Kantar Millward Brown


Reality for a brand is based on how it’s perceived by consumers.  Perceptions of what a brand stands for are the essential signals that drive consumer consideration and purchase.  Key analysis across the most successful brands in Indonesia shows how these brand perceptions connect with the reality of sales and dollar values.

Meaningful difference

A clear signal of future success can be validated by looking back at the scores of 43 brands from the BrandZ™ Top 50 in Indonesia for which we have values from 2015 and 2017.  These scores are based on perceptions of being meaningful and different.  Brands that are meaningful to people achieve greater market share, and brands that are perceived to be different tend to command a higher price premium. Comparing the high-scoring brands with the low-scoring brands on their meaningful difference, we see a change in brand value that is significantly greater for the high scorers and negative for the low scorers (+10 percent versus -3 percent).  This is a clear, predictive signal of success.

Vital signs

Just as there are many contributors to human wellbeing, there are multiple factors that go towards making a healthy brand that is meaningfully different and, ultimately, valuable. We have distilled these factors into five key “vital signs”, that are common to healthy, strong and valuable brands. Brands can also look at how they perform on these individual measures when they are seeking clues to improving their overall brand health. When one or more of the vital signs is lacking, general brand health can suffer.

These five vital signs that make up meaningful difference and that can generate greater shifts in brand value are: Purpose, Innovation, Communications, Brand Experience and Love.  Brands that score highly on all five aspects are the most successful: they are “healthy” brands.  Those that are low on all five aspects are “frail” and the least successful.  Brands with a mix of high and low scores are “OK”.

As might be expected for the most valuable brands in Indonesia, there is a high proportion that is in good shape.

In the three years since the first Indonesia BrandZ ranking was launched, the value of “healthy” brands has massively outpaced the others:


Building good health

The vital signs of a brand work together, in layers, to build a complete picture of brand health. Brands with purpose – those that are “making people’s lives better” – have a strong foundation for health.  This signals that a brand has been developed in the best way for the benefit of its users.  Only when brand purpose is firmly established can true innovation be developed that will resonate in a meaningful way. If purpose and innovation are communicated in a fresh and engaging way, the chances of success will be significantly raised, because the perception will “stick”’ to the brand, making it positively different. Consumers will be much more likely to try a brand, and if the brand experience lives up to or exceeds the promise, perceptions will become reality.  The outcome is almost certainly greater brand love. That love then sustains the brand until the next innovation comes along.

This progression adds up to a brand with better vital signs, and greater value as a result, as this assessment of the top and bottom half of the 2017 Top 50 Indonesian brands shows:


Just as with human health, building a healthy brand is not something that can be done with a single magic pill, a single decision or one advertising campaign. It is the ongoing attention and investment given – on a daily basis – to nurturing these vital signs that over time establishes and improves the health of a brand.