By Nancy Villanueva, Managing Director, Interbrand Madrid

We live in a world in constant change. Never before in the history of mankind has progress been so rapid. Technology, society and industry are permanently evolving and every aspect of the economy has to adapt and lead this new phenomenon. Brand and businesses, too.

Growth in a Changing World is precisely the subject that the latest edition of the Best Global Brands report, prepared by Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consulting firm, focuses on. In addition to publishing the prestigious league table of the 100 most valuable brands in the world, Best Global Brands also analyses growth trends and studies what organizations are doing to achieve and maintain this stature.

Once again, the report shows Apple and Google at the very top of the ranking. Microsoft grew by 10% and completes the podium of a list dominated by technology brands – its total value reaching USD 675.239 million. The top 10 continues with Coca-Cola, Amazon, Samsung, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and IBM. Curiously enough, five of these ten brands belong to the technology industry.

Undoubtedly, companies such as Apple have reshaped the global scenario. Every year, organizations that did not even exist 15 years ago, such as Facebook, oust the traditional giants from the top positions. But let’s not fool ourselves: if the total value of Best Global Brands as a whole grows every year, it’s also partly because there is a rich economy, nourished by different sectors and origins, and CEOs/CMOs who has understood that brands act as the best lever of growth for their businesses.

Why is the brand the best tool to grow?

Brands help consumers to create an opinion and find meaning for business. A brand is the embodiment of a business: it is the reason for its existence, its purpose, and it is based on values that shape its DNA. Most importantly, it is the most critical intangible of a business when it comes to choice and loyalty.

The brand must be present in every action carried out by an organization, but above all, it must revolve around people, as it’s aimed at people – not only at consumers, but also at employees in the organization, who are the first and best ambassadors of any strong brand. The ones that succeed now and will continue to do so in the future are tirelessly seeking to make people’s lives easier, improve the world and deliver extraordinary experiences. But, beware, aspirations will not be successfully carried out without a strategic foundation that solidifies the brand and prevents it from corrupting its identity.

How do Top Growing Brands perform?

Facebook leads the brand value growth rate with 48%, followed by Amazon (+29%), Adobe (19%), Adidas (+17%), Starbucks (+16%), Goldman Sachs (+165), Huawei (+14%), Morgan Stanley (+14%), FedEx (+12%) and PayPal (+12%). What can we learn from them?

  • I should note that not only young technological and disruptive companies are doing their job very well in relation to their brands. While technology helps their birth and development, growth is not a field that belongs only to them, as it also occurs in retail, sporting goods, financial services…. Ages differ amongst brands that have experienced double-digit growth this year – in fact, Goldman Sachs is more than 140 years old -, proving that understanding and applying the “Grow, Change, Grow” cycle can create sustained brand and business growth.
  • These successful growing brands put people at the center of everything they do, especially when it comes to innovation and development. They use data and measurement effectively to ensure a strong engagement, and study how to deliver unique experiences that meet the desires and needs of their customers. But they don’t forget their employees and continuously invest internally – many of them have been recognized for their culture, workplaces and dedication to their people. These brands believe that their employees are the fuel that will make them grow, their innovators, their doers, their passion and their energy. In essence, big brands are built from within.
  • Most of the Top Growing Brands present in BGB 2017 stand out for their clear strategic mission and relevant purpose, enabling them to shape their ambitions and turn them into attitudes and experiences. Any well-defined purpose is the basis for a serious growth path as it guides every initiative, every action, every tactic, and every innovation. Purpose can be expressed in many ways: it can be a sort of tagline that is communicated repeatedly and easily, or a longer manifesto. No matter the format: the key is the central and strategic role that the brand plays in each of these large companies.

With technology, people and a purposed-driven strategy inoculated in a brand’s DNA, change isn’t a barrier. It’s an opportunity for business to achieve growth and prosper.