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Are We Measuring Brand Power Correctly?

Following the Tenet Partners report we ask whether it is right

1Jun

We have recently seen the top brands of 2015 analyzed by Tenet Partners who have brought together several important metrics to show which brands are the most powerful in the world today.

The top 5 are:

1. Coca-Cola
2. Hershey
3. Bayer
4. Walt Disney
5. Apple

It shows that this may well be a US centric list, but given that America is the biggest consumer market in the world, it is not surprising that they have scored highly.

One of the most important aspects that springs to mind when you look at this list is that they none of them are online powerhouses. Each have impressive websites and certainly have a presence online, but with the exception of the Apple iStore, none have any internet specific offerings.

Think about the power that Amazon or Facebook now has on our every day lives, yet Amazon only comes in at number 65 on the list and Facebook does not appear at all. In fact the top internet brand on the list is Google at number 15, with Yahoo at 22, eBay at 40 and Amazon at 65 being the entirety of the digital brands in the list.

It begs the question of what ‘brand’ actually is. Is it the weight behind the name itself or something more? It seems that the weight of the name and familiarity of the brand do not play a factor in this list.

For instance, Harley Davidson is certainly less engaged with their audience than Google, yet sit 5 places higher in the table. Even the most hardcore Harley Davidson fan will visit some kind of Google site more than the actual Harley Davidson site itself. If they want to search for the most up-to-date Harley Davidson news they would probably search Google. If they wanted to see a video of Harley Davidsons, they would probably use Youtube to do so. This means that they are as aware, if not more so, of Google’s portfolio than of Harley Davidson’s.

In fact with the rise of social media and the fact that anything a company does can now be seen and transmitted instantly, is it even possible or wise to have rankings like this?

We have seen that a brand can bomb within a few hours if they have negative news spread through social media and this news can instantly be found and spread through the increasing speed of digital publishing. As one of the key metrics shown in this is 'brand favourability', this makes the existence of a static table almost meaningless. If (hypothetically) Coca-Cola had a shady practice identified and spread through social media, their brand favourability would plummet.

We have seen how this can impact on bottom lines and company valuations and with social buzz surrounding a company now being factored in to stock value it is easy to see how this can swing so quickly. We saw this when American Apparel posted a picture of the challenger space shuttle disaster not realizing what it was and their brand instantly became vilified.

It does not even need to be a gaffe from the company itself. We have seen that following the FIFA scandal of the last week that some of the key sponsors have threatened to pull out due to the poisonous brand image that they have associated with themselves.

Digital today is undoubtedly one of the biggest parts of how people perceive and communicate with brands, yet does not seem to have been considered in this list. Think about which brand has more power online, Coca-Cola with 2.9 million Twitter followers and 90 million Facebook likes, compared to Facebook’s 13.9 million Twitter followers and 162 million Facebook likes. With 23% of all Facebook users checking their Facebook feeds more than five times per day (this equates to roughly 300 million people) it means that their brand is huge, but simply not recognized through the metrics used in this list. 

If this is going to be the benchmark against which the power of a brand is estimated it simply does not work. It seems to be looking purely at old metrics and pays no attention to what is currently happening. A classic example of this being when I was in a shop a few days ago and a guy asked whether they had a phonecase in 'Facebook blue', I can't imagine somebody saying 'Family Dollar Store orange', yet according to this list their brand is the more powerful of the two. 

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