In the first of an exciting new series of articles by B2B International, Nick Hague asks you to take a seat in the Business Surgery where we will prescribe remedies to get your business fit and healthy. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin…
I recently read with great interest the Financial Times Special Report on Global Brands. It backed up a lot of what I already knew about the importance of branding and what we continually preach to our clients; that investing, developing and managing a strong brand will not only differentiate a company from the competition but also result in increasing financial returns.
“The obituaries proved premature. In the era of austerity, complete with subdued consumers and cost cutting companies, big brands are flourishing…… investing in brands through recessionary downturns pays off.”
At first glance, the Top 5 global brands for 2011 as stated by WPP’s Brandz survey don’t hold many surprises:
It is only when you start to look down the list at the 9th largest global brand; China Mobile, that you start to get a feel for the changing landscape of brands in the global arena. Indeed, China brands figure strongly in this year’s Top 100 Brands including just in the top 50 the brands of ICBC (No.11), China Construction Bank (No.24), Baidu (No.29), China Life Insurance (No.33), Bank of China (No.37) and Agricultural Bank of China (No.43), but what does this really mean?
As stated in the report:
“China is on the verge of becoming a global brand powerhouse”
Or is it?
Is it really the case that the Agricultural Bank of China is a stronger global brand than Mercedes (No.50), Nike (No.57), Pepsi (No.63) or even Gucci (dropped out of this year’s Top 100) – I don’t think so!
Most of the brands mentioned are state owned companies and most have the positions in the Top 100 because of the scale they have in their home Chinese market. Of course, there are always going to be questions to the methodology of how such a top 100 is created – but what I do think it shows is the increasing consumption (and thus importance) of brands in China and indeed the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) nations. For example, currently the brand Baidu will not mean much to Western people when Google is the most widely used search tool. However, with China’s internet growing in both influence and sophistication, could Baidu challenge Google for global supremacy in the future if they decide to look outside of China?
One thing we do know is that through globalization, the branding landscape of Western dominance is starting to change. Therefore, if you are thinking of rebranding or developing a new brand, focusing on the global picture rather than your usual country specific focus will deliver greater profit and growth in the years to come.
Nick Hague 2011 ©