Among this year’s Best Global Brands, it’s those moving at the speed of life that are accelerating. A review of this year’s report reveals some key insights—especially among new entrants and top risers. Brands across all categories are not only adopting innovative technologies, but also embracing holistic change in order to become stronger, faster, and more agile.
There are some clear, common hallmarks among this year’s Top 100 that show what it takes to keep pace with today’s consumers and secure a place among the Best Global Brands.
Clarity of Strategy and Focus on Structure
Clarity is a sure source of strength. In order to be coherent, efficient, and meet consumer expectations, top-performing brands lean on an ambitious vision that shapes both behaviors and structures.
Focus has been a driving force for top riser Nissan, which has embarked on ongoing integration efforts. Armed with a clear vision for the brand, disseminated by its Global Marketing leaders, the company has united its divisions and agency partners in order to deliver on its product promise, while designing business strategies to engage contemporary consumers in global markets.
Clarity doesn’t come just from within: Today’s savvy brands benefit from tapping into their consumers too. Top riser 3M—known for everything from Scotch tape to circuits—asked its employees, as well as 15,000 customers in 15 countries, to help define its new brand platform, “3M Science. Applied to Life.” It has driven clear growth strategies: It’s focused on increasing R&D spends, divesting lagging businesses, and developing storied content to create product-awareness among its global, under-35 targets.
A central purpose is particularly crucial for diversified companies. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella set a bold ambition to “reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.” Microsoft brought together its Windows and devices organizations to align its engineering structure to its strategy, along with its commercial cloud—a move that’s grown revenue by 88 percent, driven by Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics CRM Online.
From strategy to structure, successful brands are streamlining and integrating their operations for greater agility and focus.
Relentless Customer Centricity
As brands gain focus, that focus is ever more zeroed-in on the customer. For perennial Top Ten brands like Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, customer-centricity is built into their DNA. But many brands are continuing to evolve by developing design-led strategies that place customers at the core.
In its first year as an independent entity, PayPal breaks into the Best Global Brands list with the continued mission of “powering the people economy.” Simplicity, security, and ease of use are priorities that have been internalized because they are central concerns for the company’s users—particularly sellers. PayPal is investing in seamless technologies like mobile and contactless payments and acquiring user-friendly platforms like Braintree and Venmo. For PayPal, it’s not just about meeting consumer needs, but letting those needs power the business strategy.
This outside-in approach is being adopted by other breakthrough brands. The LEGO brand, which made its Best Global Brands debut this year, taps into a rising “maker” ethos, popularized by tinkerers of all types. “LEGO Ideas” invites LEGO enthusiasts to create, document, and crowdshare their own projects, with the chance of seeing them on shelves. The platform is an innovative tool for bringing customers closer to the business—and gathering valuable insights.
It’s these authentic interactions that today’s savvier consumers seek as they cull through the crowd of brands vying for their attention. For heritage brands like Hermès, which soared 22 percent in brand value this year, authenticity manifests in an unshakable devotion to craftsmanship, quality, and enabling customers to “indulge in moments of pure lightness.” Hermès recently appealed to a new digital generation by partnering with the bastion of customer-centricity, Apple, to unveil the Apple Watch Hermès.
While technology paves the way for innovation, brands across all industries are harnessing its power to create unprecedented, personal experiences.
Adobe has become a partner in personalization by developing leading-edge tools that empower brands to create experiences tailored to their own customers. Its Experience Manager Screens and Adobe Target platforms harness cloud connectivity and location-targeting technologies to cater directly to individuals as they move through the buying funnel.
Technology is also proving a force for cross-industry collaboration. Rising brands in all categories are partnering with tech giants to connect with customers in groundbreaking ways. Auto brand Toyota harnesses Google’s powerful API to push city-specific messaging into geo-targeted banner ads. Toyota also extends its influence from behind the wheel and into drivers’ daily lives as it joins Panasonic to develop its cloud-connected Smart Center.
Technology isn’t just relegated to the cloud. While many of the Top 100 brands are tapping technologies to create innovation, others are using technology in innovative ways. Moët & Chandon rises back onto the Best Global Brands report, buoyed by efforts to keep its image fresh. It reinforced its place in the nightlife scene with “Bright Night,” the first-ever luminous champagne bottle, which demonstrates how even the most distinctive brands can adopt simple technologies to captivate and delight consumers.
Clarity, customer-centricity, and using technology to power personal experiences—all hallmarks of the brands that have made the most impressive strides this year. As each demonstrates, there is no singular template for building a great brand, but it’s enlightening to see how these broad characteristics manifest as individual brands evolve at the speed of life.