Samsung (#6) and Toyota (#7) were the only two Asian brands in the top 10 of Interbrand's 2017 Best Global Brands rankings, with a brand value of US$56,249 million and US$50,219 million respectively. Both brands tackled the fundamental issue faced by numerous Asian brands in recent years - clarifying the purpose that drives them, Jonathan Bernstein, MD of Interbrand Singapore, said.
He said that given Asia’s incredibly diverse markets, it is crucial to communicate a single, unifying belief that employees and customers across demographics can rally around, one that goes beyond being first-in-market.
"By crystallising the impact they create for both customers and more broadly, Samsung and Toyota have not only been able to maintain consistency and clarity for their brands amid incredible market and consumer shifts, but also deliver create meaningful, relevant experiences for customers across Asia’s complex landscape," Bernstein added.
Both Samsung and Toyota are highly aware that without creating personal impact, innovation is irrelevant, he said. As a result, they have used this to guide their technology advancements. For example, Samsung takes on a people-centric approach to innovation. By constantly keeping the tenet of technology that adapts to the customer’s life, rather than the other way around, Samsung is able to create not only relevant products, but ones that are rewarding for customers.
Another reason why these two brands were able to make it to the top 10 was also because they were effective in clearly communicating the purpose behind everything they do. "Today, customers today are looking for not just the brands, but the values that surround them," Bernstein said.
In Toyota's case, it strives to eliminate obstacles from the world of mobility and instead empower people around the globe to use mobility as a way to thrive. This is done through sustainable mobility solutions, strategic partnerships and other key initiatives. Similarly, Samsung has also effectively communited its dedication to not only improve the lives of customers but to chart the course of the future, hence energizing its people and its customers, Bernstein added.
According to Stuart Green, CEO, Asia Pacific, Interbrand, the lack of Asian brands in global rankings is due factors such as a historical preference for Western brands. Moreover Asian brand have limited global appeal and a "copy-cat" mentality, with a focus on low-cost manufacturing.
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"A key issue for many of the larger, conglomerate businesses in Asia remains the sheer extent of their diversification, making it very difficult for businesses to define and express a clear brand definition in the first place," Green added. He also said that the lack of purpose beyond being the first or "beating the competition" is another "fundamental issue", as these are only of interest to a small group of people within the organisation. He said:
A more meaningful purpose should center itself around doing something of direct benefit to customers, or the world at large.
"Something that ultimately people can unite around and identify with, and through which the brand owner can create a clear brand definition and deliver meaningful experiences," Green said.
Other Asian brands among the top 100 included Honda (#20) with a brand value of US$22,696 million; Hyundai (#35) with a brand value of US$13,193 million; Nissan (#39) valued at US$11,534 million; Canon (#52) with a brand value of US$9,788 million; KIA (#69) valued at US$6,681 million; Huawei (#70) with a brand value of US$6,676 million, Panasonic (#75) valued at US$5,983 million; and Lenovo (#100) with a brand value of US$4,004 million.
More value for consumers
He advised companies to make use of big data and insight-driven marketing to create value for their customers and launch innovative products and services. As consumers desire a more personalised and curated experience, investment in insight-driven analytics "should be a priority" for all companies in Asia.
Green noted that the challenge of localisation that regional brands usually face is disappearing over time, allowing companies to be "far more versatile". He added that the challenge of localisation has also pushed brands to create personalised, curated experiences for consumers across diverse markets.
For example, South Korea's "Please do it for me" personalised butler delivery service for the masses has evolved to offer consumers with a seamless butler experience. If customers wish to celebrate their anniversaries but do not have time to prepare for them, "Please do it for me" will buy gifts and settle restaurant reservations.
Green also urged companies to offer an integrated experience to keep consumers engaged and do away with "outdated Asian models" that revolve around silos, processes, hierarchies and policies.
"New business models will need to be more organic, transparent, and even porous as the interactions between brand owners and their customers evolves ever more. Culturally, this is a major challenge for Asia’s more traditional businesses," he said. He added that large internet companies will continue to cooperate with different industries to create new value for consumers, such as working with Sony and Panasonic to develop Smart Home concepts.
Apple and Google maintain top positions worldwide
Meanwhile, Apple, Google and Microsoft topped the list, with Apple and Google holding the top positions for five consecutive years. Apple's brand value increased by 3% to US$184,154 million, while Google's increased by 6% to US$141,703 million. Microsoft's brand value jumped to US$79,999 million following a double-digit percentage growth. Coca-Cola and Amazon were among the top five most valuable brands, with a brand value of US$69,733 million and US$64,769 million respectively.
Three new entrants to the list are Netflix (#78), Salesforce (#84) and Ferrari (#88), with a brand value of US$5,592 million, US$5,224 million and US$4,876 million respectively. More than half of the Best Global Brands came from automotive (16%), technology (15%), financial services (12%) and fast moving consumer goods (9%).
Facebook topped the list of Top Growing Brands with a growth of 48%, followed by Amazon (29%), Adobe (19%), Adidas (17%) and Starbucks (16%). According to the report, retail (19%) is the top growing sector, followed by sporting goods (10%), technology (8%), logistics (7%) and financial services (6%). The Top 100 brands have a combined total value of USD $1,871,730 million, an increase of 4.2% from the previous year.
“We are living in one of the most exciting periods of change—societal, technological, industrial—that impacts every aspect of commerce and life. In this ever-shifting context, growth becomes more challenging, which is why businesses need brands more than ever. The Best Global Brands understand that brands are the platform for growth," Jez Frampton, global CEO of Interbrand, said.
The 18th edition of the report, which revolves around the theme of "Growth in a Changing World", analyses how brands grow in a changing world, showing that using technology at a scale to deliver intimate human experiences, will help propel economic growth value. It examines three components - financial performance of the branded products and services; the role of the brand in influencing customer choice; and the brand's strength in commanding a premium price or securing earnings for the company.