My Take – The power of brands

Home Editorials My Take - The power of brands

August 19/26 2013; Volume 27/number 9

By Steven Feldman

Brands. A simple name can convey much more than a positive or negative message about a product. It can invoke feelings, memories, attitude or even behavior. Ideally, brands should inspire confidence and, most importantly, can command a premium price. There are certain expectations that come with a brand and if those expectations are not met, the brand suffers.

In the floor covering industry, most brands are retailer brands. In other words, not many resonate with the consumer. Gone are the days when a company like DuPont could spend $25 million to get the penetration it achieved with Stainmaster.

In the spirit of this issue of FCNews, in which we’ve featured various industry brands, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the top 100 brands in the U.S. as determined by brand-building company Interbrand and understand how they’ve achieved their top spots. You probably can rattle at least 20 off the top of your head: Coke, Pepsi, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, McDonalds, Disney, Starbucks, Harley Davidson, Budweiser and just about every automobile company. These venerable brands have been mainstays on every top 100 list. But I’ve found some that have greatly increased their brand value in the past few years and it’s probably no surprise how they did it.

Facebook: With almost a billion people on Facebook globally, the negative activity around the 2012 IPO doesn’t appear to have affected the brand’s phenomenal growth, especially in developing markets. Interbrand values the platform at $5.4 billion. The migration of users to its mobile program is surging 67% year-on-year, a good sign that Facebook remains relevant.

MasterCard: Making the top 100 for the first time with a brand value of $3.9 billion, the credit card company has gained market share from Visa over the past year in spending volume and new card users. The brand’s “Priceless” tagline and accompanying slogan have resonated and succeeded in building emotional connections between MasterCard and consumers.

Amazon: Ah, the place where consumers can find anything they want to buy—online. It delivers on this goal by regularly expanding its products and services and, in doing so, has remained a leader in customer service. In 2011, Amazon introduced both the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire in 175 countries. The Kindle Fire now enjoys the world’s second-largest tablet market share.

Samsung: This brand increased its value a meteoric 40% in 2012, more than any brand except Apple and Amazon. With 19.1% market share, Samsung became the global leader for smartphone shipments ahead of Apple and Nokia.

Kia: This is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales each of the past three years. Although the lineup is attractive to many cost-conscious consumers, the company has built a particularly strong connection with Millennials and the Gen Y audience. Kia is promoting the connected life and is appealing to younger segments through technology and alignment with their lifestyles.

Pampers: Not only is Pampers the top-selling diaper brand in the U.S., it is Proctor & Gamble’s No. 1 selling brand in the world. Using social media platforms to humanize the brand, Pampers’ Facebook page provides updates on employees’ pregnancies and new-baby milestones. Pampers also had a strong presence at the London Olympic Games in 2012, which extended to YouTube, where Pampers featured Canadian babies singing the national anthem in support of Team Canada.

MTV: Once the pre-eminent medium for the broadcast of music videos, MTV has become the pre-eminent medium for reality TV. Its diversification has moved the brand further from its roots and into its current dilemma: music television or not? MTV invests a lot of resources in researching, understanding and adapting to its audiences’ evolving needs and desires.

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