This year’s BrandZ list is a vital guide on how to future-proof your brand

It is a good moment to take the temperature of brand value and what factors underpin successful brands as global economies begin to strengthen and technology continues to drive innovation and customer expectations at an unparalleled rate.

Branwell mega nav 2

A look at the annual BrandZ listing of the top 100 most valuable global brands, compiled by Millward Brown, makes rewarding reading. You can find a full analysis of the research here but three key trends are apparent.

First, the brands now dominating the BrandZ list (and there are only seven new entries) are those that are beginning to embed themselves in the everyday lives of consumers. Google is in the top spot and is making full use of its ever-widening ecosystem, from Android to Nest Labs , to become an essential fixture. There is definitely a space at the intersection of retail, financial services and technology where strong brands have a marvellous opportunity to seize, as global BrandZ director Peter Walshe says, “share of life”.

Second, there is value in refocusing on the original brand purpose to keep differentiated in overcrowded markets. Starbucks has moved up the BrandZ listing and increased brand value by investing in its stores and staff and honing its position as “the third space” where people can relax outside home and work.

Third is that trust and customer loyalty are coming to the fore once more as key to success as the economy recovers. Trust is the essential ingredient for a brand to be allowed to become a vital part of a customer’s everyday life, ahead of price and even value. The trust issue is rising fast – borne out by the numerous reports and conference panels with titles such as ‘The Engagement Crisis and The Loyalty Dilemma’. A recent study from RKCR/Y&R detonated some myths. Trust does not take years to build: witness the rise of Google, Amazon or Airbnb . Neither can it be destroyed overnight as Google seems to be weathering critique of its tax arrangements and its personal data policies remarkably well. The key learning from this study is that there are many kinds of trust and trust can be built on a variety of different pillars, from performance to whether the brand is a pioneer in its sector.

So, in brief, if you want to future-proof your brand you need to start working on trust (especially with the ‘Millennial’ demographic), embedding your services or product in day-to-day life and keep sight of your core proposition.

Is this all easy to accomplish? No. If it was then there would be greater competition and movement in rankings like the BrandZ top 100. However, the above provide vital triangulation points for any brand steering towards survival and success in the next decade and beyond.


And to help you with your thoughts on brand development we have the first column from a member of our Vision 100 list of marketers , in association with Adobe. Read what advice National Trust brand and marketing director Clare Mullin offers here .