Who Has the Strongest IT Brands?
August 10, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
AS/400 shops are, perhaps more than any other system community until Sun Microsystems is finally consumed by Oracle, are keenly aware of product branding and the effects of not using a brand well to identify the differentiating features of that product.
Market research company Millard Brown Optimor, which specializes in branding and, interestingly, assigning values to brands, has just released its BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report, which you can see here. And it argues that rather than being just some silly naming, proper brands allow established companies to more easily and more cheaply enter new markets and protect themselves from incursions by upstarts in their existing markets. The report takes revenue and earnings figures and sprinkles some mathematical methodology mumbo-jumbo on them and comes up with a value of a brand–in this case, a company logo, usually with its name, but sometimes also a specific product brand. The top 100 brands had an aggregate value of over $2 trillion, according to MBO.
As you have no doubt already guessed, the MBO reckons that Google has the most valuable brand in the world, worth over $100 billion and up 16 percent from its alleged value last year. Microsoft ranked second in the BrandZ listing, with its name worth $76.25 billion, up a mere 8 percent. Soda (or pop, depending on where you are) giant Coca-Cola came in with a brand valued at $67.6 billion, just ahead of IBM, with a name that is worth $66.6 billion according to MBO and up 20 percent in the past year. Fast food giant McDonald’s–or more precisely, its golden arches logo–was fifth, at $66.57 billion in brand value (and up 34 percent), followed by Apple, with its apple missing a bite logo having a brand value calculated at $63.1 billion.
In the tech area, Google might be the big dog when it comes to brand value, but Research In Motion‘s BlackBerry is by far the most improved brand, with a value that doubled in 2009 to $27.5 billion–no doubt helped by the fact that President Obama defied the Secret Service and kept his BlackBerry after taking office in January. The technology brand value rankings are on page 33 of the BrandZ report, if you want to see how they all stack up.
If you are thinking that this brand value stuff is just a bit nonsensical, I agree. First of all, a good name is priceless, even if keeping your name in the good column can take effort and be costly. While brands are important, and they certainly do help companies preserve their businesses and expand into new markets, I would argue that a name and a logo are just getting credit for something else that is a little more intangible than companies like MBO would care to admit: making the best product you can and keeping customers happy. This is not something you can measure so easily, but when you are doing it, damned if you don’t succeed. The brand is not the tail that wags the dog–unless you have a business saying so, I suppose, and people want to buy that story.