This month, brand consultancy Interbrand released its 19th Best Global Brands list. The list identifies – and explores the common success factors behind – the world’s leading brands.
What sectors do they come from? How have they achieved their success?
And where do financial services firms compare to other industries? We look into the findings here.
What makes a world-class brand?
In the introduction to the report, Interbrand’s global CEO Charles Trevail says that it’s clear that ‘the Role of Brand is more important and more valuable than ever, and has continued to help leading organisations accelerate growth’.
The report claims that because – rather than in spite – of the fact that technology is changing our interaction with brands; we receive more information than ever; brands like Amazon and Google dominate their sectors totally; and customer attention is harder to attract than ever, with increasing expectations – the role of brands is more important than ever.
In the Interbrand vernacular, leading brands are ‘Activating Brave’. Their strong sense of who they are enables these brands to take decisive action, to decide the future rather than just adapting to it, and to simultaneously look at the big picture and the detail.
What do the world’s leading brands have in common?
There are some qualities and approaches that unite the leading brands. What are those attributes, and how can you adopt them to your own advantage?
1. Positive utility
‘Positive utility’ is the first trait shared by the top brands. What does Interbrand mean by this? In the words of the report, ‘Leading brands are driven by
their desire to be useful, to create products, tools and services that actually solve customer problems’.
This sense of purpose underlies their being, giving them a drive to create ‘meaningful, positive impact in the world’.
Emulate success: re-examine your own raison d’etre and approach. How can what you do be reworked to truly centre around your customers and the
greater good? Read more about how to convert client care promises into action.
2. Subscription mindset29% of the 2018 Best Global Brands list are subscription-based businesses, compared to 18% in 2009. Why is this the case? Customer loyalty is waning. A good way to ensure you retain interested customers, therefore, is to get them to sign up to ongoing products or services.
The report cites the example of Adobe, which has seen a 14% annual Brand Value increase since 2011, having re-engineered its business model from one-
off purchases to subscriptions.
Emulate success: clearly, not all businesses translate easily to a subscription model. But look at ways you can replicate some part of the model – perhaps by signing clients and prospects up to regular content updates.
3. Customer centricityLeading brands, the report says, are ‘co-creating solutions with their customers, bringing the voice of the customer into every aspect of their business’
The Best Global Brands data over the last 10 years has shown that the brands generating the most stable growth are those that score highest for
relevance and responsiveness to customers.
Emulate success: we have looked before at the fact that customers are driving much of today’s digital disruption, in financial services and elsewhere. As
above, convert your brand promises into tangible action and you will remain focused on your clients’ and customers’ needs.
4. Learning from luxuryThe luxury goods sector performed best in this year’s brand list, experiencing 42% growth. Luxury – whether in products or experiences – delivers ‘a sense
of exclusiveness that comes from a unique or personalised service, or a premium experience.
The report attributes much of these brands’ success to their ability to ‘anticipate and respond to…shifting cultural trends. They have managed to…provide levels of access that…have made their brands more desirable to more customers.’
Gucci is held up as an example here, with a committee of millennial employees that provide regular insight to the business’s senior leadership. Other,
formerly ‘non-premium’ brands are shifting towards premium products and services to tap into this shift.
Emulate success: luxury brands create a sense of desire and exclusivity. While this is less obviously applicable to financial services – except perhaps
banking, where premium products and services exist – there are things you can do to create a feeling of exclusivity. Content that is made available only (or
first) to your best contacts, for instance. An enduring sense of quality is the other thing common to luxury brands and is something that should be striven
for across sectors, whether in products or services.
5. Role of brandMaking the brand a more central factor in the customer decision-making process is – according to Interbrand – ‘a critical way of fuelling business growth’.
Recognising the role the brand plays means having a cohesive marketing and brand strategy, and putting the brand at the heart of everything they do.
Emulate success: the report identifies three ways to increase your own role of brand – first, to focus on building a stronger brand; second, to reposition a brand by radically reshaping the customer experience; and third, to shift your role of brand by disrupting conventions in your sector, or radically changing a business model, as Uber and Amazon have done.
With brand reputation all too easy to destroy, it’s vital to understand and nurture your brand, whether through consistent marketing materials (find out how getting agency briefing right is central to achieving this – and how automated tools, like online slide libraries, can help) or via the service you deliver.
And don’t forget that if you work in a regulated industry, compliance is crucial to your brand strategy.
The report concludes by claiming that ‘Change is imperative, and making bold moves is critical to long-term success’ – but that this doesn’t mean chaotic, anarchic disruption. Far from it; innovation has to be tightly planned and managed; ‘there has to be a vision which galvanises the organisation and gives it the confidence to make the right choices to transform’.
So – identify where you want to be, and effect change in a disciplined way to achieve your aims. Put the customer and the brand at the heart of your operations. Explore ways to introduce an element of subscription, if appropriate. And if you’re regulated, remember the importance of compliance.
To read more on the symbiotic relationship between brand strategy and corporate compliance, you can download a copy of our free whitepaper, The Importance of Compliance to Brand Strategy. The whitepaper is available here.
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