Brands New, and Reinvented

  – James Casale

I was reviewing some old marketing research material I still have in my office and came across a list of InterBrand’s Top 100 Global Brands for 2001. I thought it would be interesting to compare the top 10 global brands of 2001 to the top global brands of today. In this 11 year span, what organizations have sustained brand prestige, and which companies have fallen off the global brand pantheon? For the 2012 list, in parenthesis, I’ve included the 2012 ranking position and for 2012 list the 2001 position.

InterBrand Top 100, 2001

InterBrand Top 100, 2012

  1. Coca-Cola (1)
  2. Microsoft (5)
  3. IBM (3)
  4. GE (6)
  5. Nokia (19)
  6. Intel (8)
  7. Disney (13)
  8. Ford (45)
  9. McDonald’s (7)
  10. AT&T (n/a)
  11. Marlboro (n/a)
  12. Mercedes Benz (11)
  13. Citi (50)
  14. Toyota (10)
  15. HP (15)
  1. Coca-Cola (1)
  2. Apple (49)
  3. IBM (3)
  4. Google (n/a)
  5. Microsoft (2)
  6. GE (4)
  7. McDonald’s (9)
  8. Intel (6)
  9. Samsung (42)
  10. Toyota (14)
  11. Mercedes Benz (12)
  12. BMW (22)
  13. Disney (7)
  14. Cisco (16)
  15. HP (15)

After studying the respective top 100 lists, a few observations:

Eight of the top 10 brands in 2001 remained in the top 20 in 2012. Even in the fast-changing market of the past decade, this consistency in ranking supports the power of a strong brand. Brand equity in 2001 is certainly impacted by how a company/brand competes in the new media, digital and mobile environment and this factor continues through 2012. Also when it comes to brands with staying power, product innovation and product quality rule.

Coca-Cola stands as the top global brand through this period. The power of the Coca-Cola brand is well-recognized and documented and has transcended the products it represents; it is truly iconic and part of the American fabric. John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola, was one of the original brand gurus, distributing calendars and other items depicting the Coca-Cola logo.

Disney is a traditional brand that has maintained a strong position in the digital age. The Disney brand does not just evoke theme parks, but also cable channels, movies, retail stores, music and web properties. In every channel, Disney strongly focuses on the quality of the products that depict its brand.

Toyota represents brand equity through product quality. Toyota also demonstrates the ability for a powerful brand to carry a firm through a market crisis, such as the product recall fiasco Toyota faced a few years ago. Despite that crisis, Toyota increased its brand ranking over this period.

Ford suffered the biggest drop in brand ranking, from 8th in 2001 to 45th in 2012. The current ranking, however, reflects an improvement in Ford’s success from prior years. Product innovation, new market expansion and smart use of new media have driven renewed brand prestige for the Blue Oval.

AT&T declined from the 10th ranked brand in 2001, to out of the top 100 in 2012. While it is still the largest phone company in the U.S., it has suffered from the decreasing demand for land-line phones and sharp competition in the wireless market. A recent Consumer Reports study ranked AT&T cellular phone service near the bottom.

Google was founded in 1998 and set-up their first office in a garage. By 2012, it is ranked as the 4th most powerful brand in the world. For more on the subject, google it.

What do Apple and McDonalds have in common? They are both ultra-successful companies that have succeeded with product innovation to build brand power (of course the iPhone is awesome, but have you tried the new Egg White Delight McMuffin?)

So there you have it, some results of my fun rainy-day Sunday afternoon exercise. Fellow marketers who find this topic interesting, please provide your thoughts and insights!


Strategic Brand Management, by Kevin Lane Keller

InterBrand website