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Originally published in Spanish by marketingdirecto.com
We live in a world in which the only constant is ever-accelerating change. To grow in an unstable ecosystem is a formidable challenge that itself increases every day, but the solution isn’t to run or hide. If the brands featured in the 2017 Best Global Brands report demonstrate anything, it’s that the only way forward is to embrace the call to be an agent of positive change and not a mere witness, to act instead of waiting to react. One third of the ten most valuable brands didn’t exist twenty years ago, but they’ve disrupted sectors and created new realities, and lead the vanguard for future global change.
In this context, the most powerful European-based brands defend their position in Best Global Brands, demonstrating that they too are masters of growth in times of great change. The general and sustained growth that prevails in Europe, and that we see reflected in successive positive macroeconomic indicators (such as GDP) are in good part propelled by the successful results of the strongest European businesses.
Of the 100 Best Global Brands worldwide, 36 are European and 27 have grown in brand value. Their origins are diverse (Germany, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark) as are the sectors in which they principally operate: automotive, luxury, technology, electronics, financial services, diversified, FMCG, and energy. In their sum, these European brands represent 428,557 $m USD, or 23% of the total brand value of the Best Global Brands, an increase of 2.86% YOY.
Among the brands with the most growth this year, four European ones stand out: Top Growing Best Global Brand adidas (+17%), Spanish “democratic luxury” powerhouse Zara (+11%), French meta-luxury brand Hermès (+11%) and the ninth most valuable Best Global Brand, Mercedes-Benz (+10%). Also of note, the return of Ferrari to the Top 100 after four years’ absence.
With all the data at hand, European brands reinforce their role and fundamental importance, not only in the region but in the global economy, regardless of sector. While the industry with the most value represented in Best Global Brands is technology, when we close in on the European brands, we see leadership and growth from multiple and varied sectors. As such, the European economy continues to show proof of solidity and wealth, and that it is a principal protagonist in the new global economy thanks to its most relevant businesses that have understood the power of their brands as vehicles for sustained growth.
But how exactly are these brands achieving this? In The Age of You, the Best Global Brands have put people at the center of everything they do, and not on a whim or because of some trend promoted by the latest marketing guru, but rather because it is the only way to respond to today’s demands and create value for new audiences who are open, international and digital and interact with brands in a way that is diametrically opposed to the generations before them.
It is already a fact, not a prophecy, that the youngest generations will establish a completely new world order in which purpose, and not mere ambition, gives meaning to their lives. For this reason, their concerns and interests are different than those of their parents and grandparents. These generations are creating their own ways to engage. The results will affect all areas of life, not simply the economic, but also the social, political and ecological. No other generation has been so conscious about sustainability and purpose at every decision-making point, or demanded such a depth of connection with their leaders (be they political, business, or cultural). Millennials are immediately turned off by a lack of transparency. In fact, this absence of an authentic connection with traditional party leaders—moreover, the sense of not being heard, and in real time—is one of the explications for the growing populisms taking parliamentary seats across Europe.
Indeed, the brands that triumph and share success stories are those that listen to and understand these new audiences who demand the same from their political representatives that they do of their favorite brands: a one-to-one relationship of equals, transparency, relevance, and problem-solving.
An advertising campaign for equality or about climate change might go viral, but only brands that truly invest in and contribute to equality and sustainability from the inside-out are valued by these audiences. The rest are short-lived campaigns if they don’t build on real values that give the brand meaning and purpose. In a permanently and ever-more connected world, lies and hollow declarations are quickly uncovered, and with them the ensuing reputation crises.
As such, the brands that contribute to bettering people’s lives in meaningful ways and offer valuable benefits through design and technology-based innovation are those who will see sustainable and continued growth. The European-originating Best Global Brands reveal specific strategic brand and business insights that light the way for those who wish to take note.
If there is anything that we should all clearly take away from the European-originating Best Global Brands, it’s that age and industry are no obstacle to triumph in the present or in the future. Both the brands with deep historical legacy and the youngest disruptors dig deep into and build on their raison d’être to make the most of every new opportunity offered by the exhilarating technological, social and industrial global changes of the 21st century.
For more data and deep insights into all of the 2017 Best Global Brands, download the report.