Google is once again the biggest brand in the world, well according to one report at least. Admittedly, the said report is from highly respected market research agency Millward Brown and it has the online search engine titan as top dog in the corporate branding stakes for the second year running.
The new Millward Brown list of top 100 brands is once again dominated by technology companies with 6 of the top 10 coming from the IT field. However, previous brand king Microsoft has fallen to third to leave Google as the undisputed brand leader. Or has it, according to an alternative list by Interbrand Google ranked only 20th in 2007.
The discrepancy seems to be down to just how rapidly the Google brand is growing. While the Interbrand 2007 list has Google in 20th place it also says the brand had grown by 44% over the previous 12 months, a figure that blows all of the other top 100 brands out of the water. It is therefore perhaps understandable that a year on Google would be the top brand worldwide.
The Millward Brown list is compiled by evaluating both tangible financials and intangible customer opinion. In terms of the tangibles, Google certainly made big waves last year. Profits were up 40% to $4.2 billion in 2007.
Meanwhile, what about the intangibles? Well ask a random person on the street to name an online search engine and chances are they will say Google. Similarly, ask them to describe the Google logo and, again, the likelihood is they can.
It certainly seems Google is king at the moment. Its impressive profits, extremely recognisable profile and market sector dominance undoubtedly makes it the Tiger Woods of brands.
Meanwhile, looking just at the UK sector, Vodafone has taken over as the top British brand and in doing so has provided a useful example that brand success and profits are not necessarily mutual. In fact, ironically Vodafone’s bottom line has taken a bit of a beating lately partly because it has been pursuing an aggressive acquisition policy to expand its brand strength globally. Time will tell if boosting its brand will work for Vodafone.
Also of interest is the continued recovery of Marks & Spencer. The British retailer has had an iconic brand for a long time, however its value has fluctuated a great deal in the last few years. Happy for it, the brand is looking in good shape again as M&S is the top British retail brand and the fourth highest overall.
The recover has been multipronged. To rebuild its reputation M&S has revamped its stores, refocused on core product lines and, of course, delivered a highly successful ad campaign that reports suggest brought in £2.5 for every £1 spent. Other successful strategies included a remodelling of the company website, which resulted in a 78% increase in online Christmas sales last year. The morale of the M&S story seems to be: keep it fresh and current.