Every business has a brand — such as a name, a logo, a slogan, a symbol or some other feature — that differentiates that business from others. A company’s identity informs consumers about what an organization does; however, a brand is more than just a product or a service.
A company’s brand stimulates emotional responses in customers that reflect the company’s core characteristics and attributes: its purpose, strengths, passions, personality, attitudes, reputation, customer service, price and promise. Brand value determines customer satisfaction and loyalty; the greater that value, the higher the profits.
The most valuable companies understand the bond they have with consumers and look for innovative ways to boost their public recognition, their customer loyalty and their revenue stream.
What Are the Most Valuable Brands and What Do They Do?
According to the annual ranking of brands from brand management firm Interbrand, the most valuable global companies of 2016 are:
- Apple — $178.1 billion
- Google — $133.3 billion
- Coca-Cola — $73.1 billion
- Microsoft — $72.8 billion
- Toyota — $53.6 billion
- IBM — $52.5 billion
- Samsung — $51.8 billion
- Amazon — $50.3 billion
- Mercedes-Benz — $43.5 billion
- GE — $43.1 billion
Interbrand bases the rankings on a combination of the companies’ financial performance, the roles the brands play in influencing customer choice, and the brands’ ability to command premium prices. All of the world’s most valuable companies invest enormous amounts of time, money and hard work to build their brand value, and they all use similar approaches to create a positive image and reputation.
Vision and Mission Statements
Every business starts with a vision. A vision statement describes how a company wants to operate, for what reason and to what end. Some questions companies might ask when developing a vision statement include:
- What products and services will we offer?
- How do our customers describe our brand?
- What makes the brand unique?
The mission statement will define the specific market needs the company can address, what the company will do to meet those needs and what the company’s guiding principles and values are toward meeting those needs.
The best brands know their target audiences. A company’s voice is customer-driven, and the top brands know what kind of experience their customers want to have. They know how a brand triggers buyers’ emotions.
Powerful, successful brands conduct market research, use focus groups and surveys, and reinforce emotional experiences through regular promotions and offers as well as mobile applications. According to Forbes, “in 2013, Swedish furniture brand IKEA was one of the first companies to use augmented reality (AR) with consumers.” The company linked its printed catalog with “a mobile app and a smartphone or tablet to let the customer preview what a piece of furniture would look like in a room.”
Laura Pasternak, principal and chief brand strategist at MarketPoint LLC, says to build brand value over time, a company must pay careful attention to ongoing assessment and brand management: “Does my brand have a substantial and positive impact on sales? On growing market share? Can my customer relate to my brand? Are we building brand loyalty with every customer interaction? Building your brand is an evolving process that should be a constant driver for your business.”
The world’s best companies create experiences that deliver reliably each and every time. Volvo has built its brand around safety, which has created a strong emotional connection with its buyers. In fact, Volvo and safety have become synonymous, according to Pasternak. Volvo’s guiding principle is safety, and as a result, the company has developed a loyal customer base because the company delivers on its promise routinely.
Brand does matter, and those who build their reputation, voice and image, and manage it successfully can reap great benefits.
Learn more about branding and marketing in Baylor University’s online MBA program.
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