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6th December 2023
Interbrand Best Global Brands 2023
Written by:
Ying Mckenzie

Key points:

  • Brands that dominate the top operate across traditional categories and asks themselves not what they can do, but what they can help people do
  • Interbrand has proposed five imperatives that can propel brands into iconic status – great brands do well in at least one of them

Interbrand’s 2023 Best Global Brand Report is out with some fresh wisdom for marketers planning to ramp up their brand portfolio in 2024.

Released annually it ranks the world's most valuable brands based on various factors such as financial performance, brand strength, and brand value.

So which brands are dominating the globe? For several years running now, the top 5 global brands have not changed much; Apple (#1 by far), Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Samsung are again top of the charts in 2023. But this year, the learnings have come less from the top 5 brands but rather the up and comers who have made really bold moves to climb the ranks. Here are the top themes we’re seeing play out with learnings for all brands big and small.

Top 25 Best Global Brands

Arenas beyond categories

The brands that have achieved above average brand value growth share a common thread - not being afraid to expand into new and unexpected categories. The big ones are seizing the opportunity to leverage their brand equity and cement even stronger customer relationships by becoming indispensable.

  • Amazon (#3) – the world’s biggest bookseller now also provides healthcare services
  • Ferrari (#70) – maker of the world’s most desired car, now also a regular fixture at Milan fashion week
  • Apple (#1) – now also offers a savings account
  • Lego (#59) – now an ‘entertainment brand’ in Disney’s space going beyond toymaker to produce movies and TV shows

What these brands share are “a bit of strangeness” (Manfredi Ricca, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Interbrand) - not focussing on traditional categories or sectors, and asking what they can do to help people do. Apple, Ferrari, Lego, Amazon and Netflix all help us Play, while Nike, Phillips, Samsung and pharmaceuticals businesses all want to help us Thrive.

Play, Do, Connect and Thrive are termed ‘arenas’ by Interbrand rather than categories, and seen to be an antidote against competitive blind spots: threats that come from outside the category. What is clear is that for all these organisations, their brand plays a significant role in decision choice compared to other factors like price, features or promotion, and creates a formidable barrier to competition.

A new canon

The Interbrand report proposes a playbook of five imperatives to propel brands into iconic status.

  1. The Identification Imperative – a small set of brand codes that are memorable and travel across arenas. Think Tiffany’s (#89) use of blue and Nike’s (#9) swoosh along with the attitude that underpins it. The brand codes embody the brand’s mission, identity and core beliefs and consistency is key to build brand equity!
  2. The Asset Imperative – let the brand drive the business, not the other way around. Hermès (#23) is a prime example of superb control of the entire customer experience, from supply chain all the way to communications, retail and beyond. Their operations, technology and governance all deliver on the brand.
  3. The Experience Imperative – strong brands meet expectations, great ones shift them, creating a new normal. For instance, Red Bull (#60) going from energy drinks to creating exhilarating experiences.
  4. The Ecosystem Imperative – the use of data, technology and partnerships to personalise at scale. Spotify (#69) is more than a catalogue, becoming a companion to help you find what matters to you, listen to what matters now and share what matters to friends.
  5. The Leadership Imperative – with the deterioration of trust in government institutions, brands and companies could be the world’s most trusted institutions, and with it comes powerful narratives and responsibilities. No longer expected to just follow the rules but lead on standards.

“Brands used to be about standing out but that is not enough anymore, now they need to stand up and stand out.” Chris Nurko, Global Chief Innovation Officer, Interbrand.

Manfredi also talks about not just “doing things right but doing the right things”. An example is Microsoft (#2) with their purpose to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. Their mission is rooted in societal impact, innovation, inclusivity, and positive change, and their track record so far is impressive. Microsoft holds a hackathon called ‘One Week’ every summer, to champion and empower innovations. The initiative has yielded great products like:

  • the Seeing AI app, an app to help the visually impaired see,
  • automatic live transcription to help the hearing impaired and
  • making XBOX controls more accessible for those with limited mobility

Brands like Microsoft show leadership and purpose not only in their product development but also in their marketing and recruitment. They have committed to the idea of inclusive marketing and recruitment as they believe that disability is a talent pool that drive innovation.

So, what have we learnt from the world’s best brands? To ask ourselves as marketers not what our brand can do, but what it can help people do. And to be bold in championing brand as an asset. To put the brand at the heart of the business so we can create the right ecosystem and experience, to show leadership on issues, and protect brand codes that help create an enduring identity.

Take inspiration from the top 100 brands and the latest learnings to help fuel your marketing and branding plans for 2024.

For full details, read report here.

Source: Interbrand Best Global Brands 2023

Image credits: Interbrand

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