Nowadays, global brands face a complex scenario marked by four phenomena: abundance of choice, erosion of loyalty, speed of adoption (the pace of innovation is accelerating) and shifting frames of reference. When these four forces combine with hypercompetitive markets, the result is an entirely new environment where people’s expectations are moving faster that the fastest business.

The twentieth edition of Best Global Brands brand valuation report is a reflection of a battle that the world’s 100 most valuable brands are fighting to remain relevant in consumers’ minds. If we examine the ranking, we find two major sectors that currently seem to be in the pole position: technology and luxury.

Let’s start with luxury, with Gucci leading growth (24%, to $15,949m). The category thrives thanks to a previous transformation: legacy brands are pivoting from luxury as deeply exclusive to more dynamically inclusive because they pursue consumers who now ask to access luxury on their own terms. Hyper-personal and hyper-local are proving to be successful strategies to these brands that took the street and urban culture as elements of inspiration and identification with millennials and Gen Z.

As for technology, the top positions of Best Global Brands are dominated by this category thanks to the extraordinary results of Apple ($234,241m), Google ($167,713m) and Amazon ($125,263m).  This trio represents the new branding paradigm, which has not so much to do with a static positioning of the brand, but with a constant search for human needs to satisfy or expectations to create. Brands must become dynamic assets that, under a defined promise, progress and transform with consumers. However, progressive and constant change will not be enough to anticipate consumers’ expectations. It will be necessary to drive Iconic Moves™. These are bold moves that anticipate the spirit of the times, turn heads and dramatically increase a brand’s desirability and utility. They bring the promise to life and have the power to reshape categories, delivering explosive business growth.

Which brands have driven these movements? Let’s focus on two of them: Apple and Amazon. Steve Jobs’ creation has Iconic Moves™ in its DNA: the launch of the iPod and iTunes transformed the music industry forever and the iPhone marked a milestone in the history of technology, inaugurating the category of smartphones. For its part, Amazon shook the book industry with its e-commerce platform and, later, with the launch of Kindle. In addition, it was a pioneering brand in taking advantage of the subscription model with its Amazon Prime program and continues to do so with initiatives that help building the retail of the future, such as Amazon Go. 

An Iconic Move™ should be seen as a small earthquake that shakes the market or a specific industry and creates a temporary monopoly for the brand. But above all, it’s a movement that anticipates consumer expectations and gives the brand an edge over the competition. 

Technology brands seem to have an advantage in this new world of Iconic Moves™, but let’s not be fooled: they also have huge challenges ahead of them. The fall of Facebook from top 10 teaches us that while consumers are willing to use the most innovative products and services, they are not willing to do so if they jeopardize their privacy and security. With the development of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the integrity of user data and information will be the great competitive advantage, the great Iconic Move™.

New times are changing the very nature of brands, the way consumers interact with them and the paradigm of how they are built and grown. The key to succes? It all starts with people.