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Key takeaways from our Best Global Brands 2018 summit

This year, we brought the world’s leading brands under one roof for our first-ever, truly global Best Global Brands event at the New York Stock Exchange.  

For its 19th-year running, Interbrand’s 2018 Best Global Brands report and event celebrated the world’s most successful brands, the value they bring to the world, and how each paves the way for innovation and growth. And, what better venue to host the event than the very location where companies officially ‘go public’ on the world stage? On October 9, 2018, speakers from Cisco, L’Oréal Paris, Allianz, PayPal, Aston Martin, Microsoft, Google, SAP, Subaru, Olivela, Cadillac, Forbes, and iHeartMedia took the stage at the New York Stock Exchange to discuss topics related to this year’s theme: Activating Brave, which centers around the idea that the key to sustainable brand success is making bold, transformational moves, both now and in the future.

Kicking off the event, Interbrand’s very own Global CEO Charles Trevail welcomed attendees and told them that, after attending the summit last year, he felt that the consumer wasn’t in the room as much as it should be. “We spent this year listening to people like you, so Interbrand could become more agile, collaborative, and customer-centric. This year, we’ve gone through a big change in our direction and strategy,” he said.

Interbrand New York and San Francisco Managing Director Daniel Binns then provided a deep-dive into this year’s rankings and insights, exploring the overarching key themes that enable brands to see sustainable growth.

“What are these brands doing to achieve success? They are harnessing the ability to take bold short-term action in pursuit of a clear and aligned long-term vision. The key to Activating Brave is to simultaneously look through a microscope and a telescope, and have the courage to intercept the future, not just flow with it,” he said.

Daniel then discussed how brands today need to find constant ways to engage with their audiences in ways that are relevant to them. “Traditional types of loyalty are evolving. If you compare the Top 100 in 2009 and the Top 100 in 2018, you’ll see that 29% of the brands that made the list this year have a subscription model,” Daniel said.

Next up, Daniel introduced iHeartMedia founder and CEO Bob Pittman to the stage for a fireside chat about ‘Big Bold Bets’. According to Bob, the key for gaining a competitive edge in business is to be human-like.“There’s a difference between a name and a brand. None of us are rational when it comes to forming relationships. We still operate in a tribe mentality,” Bob said.

Bearing that in mind, Bob believes that, although companies should always strive to push the envelope, the one thing they should never take a risk with is the brand itself. “Brands need a brand steward that is the keeper of the vision, that constantly checks: is that really our personality? It takes one billion dollars of earned and unearned media and about five to seven years to build a brand. If you kill the brand, you kill the culture,” he said.

Following this fireside chat, Verbal Identity Senior Director Penny Davis moderated a panel on Activating Brave with Cisco CMO Karen Walker, Paypal Global Brand Marketing VP Greg Fisher, L’Oréal Paris Global Brand President Pierre Emmanuel Angeloglou, and Subaru of America CEO Tom Doll.

Of Cisco’s cloud transformation, Karen said the company has decided to make 80% of its revenue subscription-based. “We thought, ‘if we don’t disrupt ourselves, then someone will do it to us,’” she said.

Greg told the audience that PayPal is now developing its products and services based upon customer insights, which is instrumental to its growth. “We’re pulling people from various parts of the business into our teams, and talking to actual customers to find out more about the challenges they’re having.”

Pierre Angeloglou said that L’Oréal’s mission is to offer accessible beauty to all. “We want to give people access to fashion shows are normally quite closed to the public. We organized a catwalk on the Champs-Élysées to showcase our diverse vision of beauty. Also, now that female empowerment is more important than ever, we want to contribute to the confidence and self actualization of women through our products,” he said.

Tom said that Subaru, on the other hand, is gearing up for autonomous driving and mobility. “Our main focus is to get our customers to adjust to this automotive future.”

Speaking of tapping into market potential, our Global Chief Strategy Officer Manfredi Ricca gave an eloquent presentation on Interbrand’s work creating a new brand identity for football club Juventus.

“Rather than simply own an identity, we wanted Juventus to be an identity—one that people actually want to be part of. Because their growth is not just in football, but in taking people to places where football doesn’t usually belong—new places and spaces where people can engage with the brand in new and different ways,” he said.

Afterwards, we hosted four different break-out sessions where Interbrand’s senior leadership moderated panels titled Subscription Model, Positive Utility, Customer Centricity, and Health Invasion.

Following these sessions, Interbrand’s Chief Culture Officer Rebecca Robins hosted a ‘Lessons from Luxury’ panel discussion with Aston Martin CMO Simon Sproule, Olivela Chief Merchant Kristen Sosa, and EON Group Founder Natasha Franck, Founder.

According to Simon, Aston Martin is a heritage luxury brand that is trying to behave more like a startup. “How do you wake up as a heritage brand and make it relevant?” he said. Aston Martin’s answer? By becoming the world’s first all-electric car company. “The new product will be entirely differentiated from what is currently on offer, with a very different proposition. We are going into SUV and mid-engine sports cars,” he said.

Kristen said that Olivela aims to use the purchasing power of luxury to make a difference. “20% of our proceeds to support girls’ education. We recently ran a campaign in Jordan where we were able to send girls back to schools instead of being sold to marriage. What we’re learning is that everybody has something that’s important to them, be it female education or breast cancer,” she said.

Natasha provided the audience some background on EON, a company that has created the world’s first-ever system for sustainable recycling,working with brands on their digital identity by creating assets and products that embed a business’s value performance over the entire lifecycle.

“Fashion is one of the biggest industries responsible for pollution. We are using connectivity to scan product assets so people can see exactly where their purchases come from. Brands like Gucci can use this to authenticate their products and provide transparency to their consumers,” she said.

On that note, she commented on how today’s definition of luxury has evolved. “Luxury used to be about rare products. Now it’s about valuable experiences. Sustainable fashion brand Reformation is now viewed as a luxury brand because it has such a strong direct-to-consumer relationship. This relationship between how data is being used to actually target the consumer is shaping the way luxury is being defined in the digital age. Luxury now is really about inspiring people to make things possible.”

Simon countered her argument, expressing that, “If something is really luxury, it is difficult to do. It is difficult to buy. Luxury is not something you need. It’s something you want. Hotel rooms, private jets, haute couture, and so on. There will be a process of elimination, where meta luxury comes in, but companies that exist in the future will be true luxury.”

In our final fireside chat titled ‘Analyzing Turbulent Times,’ NYSE Group Executive Vice Chairman Betty Liu interviewed Forbes Editor Randall Lane about the biggest shifts and trends in the media industry today. Randall claimed that the trends that are truly here to stay are blockchain and AI. “Forbes believes it should be the first publishing company to execute on that, as we have the knowledge to really do something. If it all works, people could publish their own stories on Forbes platforms that could be instantaneously verified and uploaded,” he said.

Having run the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ conference in Boston from September 30-October 3, Randall commented on the fact that it’s now commonplace for 20-somethings to be entrepreneurs and CEOs. “Two decades ago, to start and put a company on the New York Stock Exchange, you had to be an 80-year-old man with a walking stick. Now you can be a teenager in a hoodie!” he said.

He elaborated on the paradigm shift, where young people don’t want to stay at a company for 40 years, but rather to start their own companies. “Younger generations don’t want to climb corporate ladders. They want to be Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg,” he said.

Lastly, he commented on the incredibly robust growth rate of IPOs today. “In the current landscape, a company can be worth one billion dollars one month and two billion dollars the next. There’s never been a better time in history to start a business.”

For more information on Best Global Brands 2018, download the report here, or follow the conversation on social media using the hashtags #BGB2018 and #ActivatingBrave.