Looking for a brand benchmark? These are the top performers

3 is the magic number, or so sang De La Soul. (Anyone else remember that one??)).

Douglas Adams would have you believe it’s 42.

But my magic number is 35. 

35 is the number of brands that appear across all 3 global brand valuation studies (BRANDZ, Interbrand and Brand Finance).  I’ve been researching the brand strategies of the brands that appear in these studies since 2013. (Yes – I’m a total brand strategy geek, and proud of it).  But it’s the ones that appear across all that I do a really deep dive on every year.  And this year there are 35 of them.

Strong brands build the bottom line

Now, I hear some of you scoffing.  Because it’s easy to take pot shots at these valuation studies, as the inimitable Mark Ritson does here. The figures for the same brand are often widely different.  Take Google – who BRANDZ value at $323,601m and Brand Finance have at $159,722m.  Just a teeny $163,879m difference. A mere drop in the ocean.

Part of the reason for the disparity is down to the different ways they go about the valuations.   

BRANDZ is the only one that takes consumer research into account, so is my preferred option, if you asked me to pick. (After all, brands live in people’s minds, so surely we should ask them what they think?)

But I have big respect for all their continued efforts to put a number on something that is fundamentally very hard to measure.

Because brands are part of a business’ intangible assets.   Hard to measure yes, but the lion’s share of a business’ balance sheet. In 2019, intangible assets accounted for 80% of the enterprise value of the companies in the S&P 500. So worth having a go at, right?

But until one of the studies is proclaimed the best way to do it, I hedge my bets and look hard at the ones that appear across all of them.

The 35 most valuable brand examples

Yes - I know you want to know which ones they are.

But try taking a guess before you scroll.

Scribble a few down. 

Bet you can get a lot of them.  

Because these are brands that have worked consistently to stand for something in our minds. 

They’ve set out their brand strategy and relentlessly focused on it – in their branding, marketing, new product development, and employee recruitment and retention strategies.

Because they know brand strategy means business success.  They value brand’s contribution to the 80%. 

Ok, ok, here’s the 35, just for you.  If you want some brand benchmarks, these guys are good ones to focus one:

  • Accenture, Amazon, American Express, Apple, BMW
  • Cisco, Citi, Coca-Cola, Dell Technologies, Disney
  • Facebook, FedEx, Google, Gucci, HSBC
  • Huawei, IBM, IKEA, Intel, J.P. Morgan
  • Mastercard, McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Netflix
  • Nike, Oracle, Pepsi, Samsung, Shell
  • Siemens, Starbucks, Toyota, UPS, VISA

What the world’s most valuable brands have in common

Firstly – here’s what they don’t. 

There is no consistency in the labels these brands use to identify their brand strategy.  You see visions, missions, purpose, maxims, values, personality …. 

But here’s what they ALL have in common.  They’ve answered the four questions I keep banging on about:

  • WHY -  they exist
  • WHO -  they are
  • HOW - they do things, and how they look and feel
  • WHAT -  they do

And the reason I keep banging on about these questions is exactly because all these brands have answered them.  It’s the commonality across all the greatest brands in the world. 

If you think about brand strategy in this way, you are one step closer to building a world-class brand for your business, or the clients you’re working for.   (Get another step closer with my free Brand Strategy in 7 Simple Steps course).

Strive like the 35.    

There’s a song in there somewhere…


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