Every year the Interbrand Best Brands study is a bit like the deep sea: some expected but many surprisingly beautiful oysters in the ocean bed. The headline from the study is the centricity of the brand as a long-term business growth driver, while using data driven marketing to navigate the terrain and manage risks in the short term.
The study answers the perennial question on customer loyalty comprehensively. The question being – “Can customers remain loyal?” The study calls out the “Subscription Mindset” where access is more important than ownership. Exemplifying this are brands like Adobe and Netflix which made the transition to a subscription model from the traditional on-premise one. They boldly took on the challenge of going back to their customers at the end of each of subscription cycle and delivering exceptional value and seeking a renewal.
The growth of luxury brands by 42% this year provides a ray of hope to those who limit their growth options by only being price-led. However, this growth is only for folks who see and anticipate cultural shifts and make bold moves proactively to take a pole position when the shifts happen.
Pressing the pedal on their growth, top growers used their brand to influence their customers to make choices citing examples of Starbucks which “made it ok to pay $5 for a cup of coffee” and Nissan using the masterbrand with the individual model brands reinforcing that at the end of the day the customer was buying a Nissan.
At the end of the report are the hallmarks of the top brands. The one on Customer as the CEO is kind of obvious. But the evergreen favorite remains the Organizational Culture that top brands create. Questioning status quo, questioning actions which are against organizational values and making tough decisions fast are three pillars on which the edifice of organizational and brand culture rests and grows.
I have used some words in bold on purpose. Here is the reason: title of this year’s study in aptly Activating Brave. While the study mentions several reasons, the factors that differentiate the fast-growing brands from the laggards are Execution in the short terms towards a North star for the brand in the long term. The phrases in bold highlight that in every success factor for the top brands.
As we move towards the end of 2018, it will be interesting to see if these trends hold in the coming years. It is hard to imagine that the brands which have got their acts together on the success factors would not do in the future. But then…