Dubai: Rather than let their image be captive to the daily stock performance or quarterly financials, global corporate brands are better off being in sync with their stakeholder expectations. How they manage to do it will separate the “champion brands” from those who fail to make the cut, according to a new and exhaustive study by the marketing communications firm Apco Worldwide.
The findings — which took in a brand’s promise against the actual performance — looked through the Forbes Global 2000 list of public companies as well as the world’s largest privately-held corporate houses. (Companies that operated within a specific region alone were excluded. More than 70,000 respondents from 15 countries were polled.)
Apco’s prescription for a champion brand status relies on four principles — alignment, authenticity, attachment and advocacy. “Excellence on each attribute is increasingly difficult to achieve, but as companies advance through each dimension they do more than simply build product brand value,” said Bryan Dumont, president of APCO Insight.
“Companies that perform well against the 4As move from being good corporate brands to becoming champion brands, and champion brands are winning in this new environment.”
This means there are places for Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Google, but not for the social media giants Facebook or Twitter, which could be construed as glaring misses.
The Top 50 companies that made it to the Apco rankings make for an interesting collection, the majority of whom are dominated by names that have been in operation for decades.
There is room for the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Sharp, all of which are going through major restructurings and financial turmoil, as well as Yahoo!, which is trying to rescript its hold in a fluid tech landscape.
So, how easy – or otherwise – is it for consumers not to be affected by a brand’s financial results or stock performance? “A negative switch in a consumer’s mindset will only come about when corporate reputation — which is different from brand equity — consistently underperforms,” said Russell James, managing creative director of James Branding. “Herein lies a fundamental distinction.
“As you scroll through FTSE 100 companies with fantastic brands, many have had to overcome time-specific challenges to their reputations throughout history. Whether its government bailouts, oil spills, redundancies, product recalls or horsemeat in pies, these companies can all return some form of profitable equity to shareholders — as long as they remain true to their vision and don’t let short-term problems become a permanent blight on the brand.”
Much the same could be said about publicly listed companies’ obsession with stock market valuations. They are better off sticking to the values what made their brands tick in the first place.