Best Global Green Brands 2011

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Top Ten Green Brands & Scores

1 Toyota 64.19
2 3M 63.33
3 Siemens 63.08
4 Johnson & Johnson 59.41
5 HP 59.41
6 VW 58.90
7 Honda 58.90
8 Dell 58.81
9 Cisco 57.66
10 Panasonic 57.32

View All Top 50 Brands

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Best Global Brands

Best Global Brands is our annual study of the world’s most valuable brands.

Best Global Brands

Japan and Green:
Why green leadership matters for Japan

By Alex Murray

Few will be surprised to see Japan, a country with limited natural resources and industry-leading technology, making a strong showing in Interbrand’s Best Global Green Brands ranking. Three of the top 10 green brands hail from Japan, including number one brand, Toyota. This compares favorably with the 2010 Best Global Brands, which contained no representatives from Asia in the top 10.

Toyota’s flagship product, Prius, is clearly getting the green message across. The corporate brand enjoys strong green perceptions backed by solid performance credentials. Meanwhile, electronics maker Panasonic could benefit from some of Toyota’s marketing success. The brand beats Toyota in terms of environmental performance but receives poorer green perceptions outside its native Japan, finishing only tenth overall. The opposite is true for Toyota’s rival, seventh-placed Honda, a brand that enjoys perceptions exceeding its actual performance profile.

Green leadership matters for Japan. As regional competitors catch up with and, in some cases, surpass Japanese brands, the search for new ways to differentiate is increasingly important. Growing interest in green issues around the world offer opportunities that match many of the country’s traditional strengths – efficiency, technology, and reliability. However, leadership is far from being conclusive. China has already surpassed Japan in solar cell production, Hyundai is hard on the heels of Toyota in Interbrand’s performance ranking, and Germany has two brands ranked in the top ten of this year’s Best Global Green Brands.

While Japan has long been a leader in energy efficiency, current domestic power shortages have brought a new urgency to its environmental efforts. The original post-war miracle, economic growth fueled by any available energy sources, is being superseded by a desire for economic security and clean, sustainable energy. In the last few months, it has been virtually impossible to watch TV or ride the subway in Tokyo without seeing brands advertising their “eco” initiatives or suggesting ways that the public can help lower power consumption. Electricity utilization rates are prominently displayed as the country employs various means to manage demand including “Super Cool Biz” dress codes for office workers, and “Green Curtains” for homes and offices (climbing plants in front of buildings that provide natural air conditioning). Within this changed landscape, it is inspiring to see brands like the telecommunications upstart Softbank, seizing the moment and announcing its move into solar energy.

The most relevant green messages in Japan continue to be targeted at consumers and focused on products. This contrasts sharply with Western Europe or the U.S. where expectations of the business community are more balanced across a range of activities from products, recycling to advocacy, and suggests an interesting angle on eco-consciousness in Japan. While the debate in Japan seems to be less ideologically driven than in other countries and more focused on the benefits to the individual or the business, it may ultimately prove more effective at persuading the majority to adopt greener lifestyles and ways of working. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this more pragmatic approach can bear fruit outside Japan.

For many Japanese companies, the green movement fits nicely within existing corporate philosophies inherited from their founders. It requires only a slight reinterpretation to adapt these idealistic principles to match with the realities of the 21st century.

The green space is crowded with brands, NGOs, and government organizations all intent on claiming leadership. But as our ranking shows, Japan is well-positioned to capitalize on its achievements to date and carry the ball forward with a renewed sense of purpose. Recent events have brought the country’s energy reality into sharp focus: The new challenge is achieving sustainable, long-term economic security fueled by green technology and clean energy.