Jack Ellis

A new index has been launched emphasising brand performance according to ‘new world’ factors such as social media engagement, adaptability to new trends and technologies and interaction with consumers. But the absence of metrics relating to trademarks means that it overlooks a critical component of brand value.

Published by IPG Mediabrands and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the inaugural D100 index ranks the world’s 100 top brands according to a ‘dynamic score’. This is based on a brand’s performance across what the compilers of the index call “new world metrics” in order to differentiate them from “traditional ‘old world’ measures” including brand awareness and brand valuations.

The four new world metrics are agility (the degree to which brands adapt to changing market conditions); responsiveness (degree to which a brand listens and responds to customer needs and feedback); innovation (degree to which brands leverage new technology and create innovative products and services); and sociability (how large and engaged a brand’s audience is on social media).

The first three of these were measured by surveying over 10,000 consumers in China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. Sociability was measured using data collected from Facebook, Twitter and Chinese microblogging platform Weibo. Over 1,200 brands – at both corporate and product and service level – were examined, and each brand’s tally in these four areas was combined to come up with the overall dynamic score out of 100.

The full D100 ranking can be viewed here; the top 10 are as follows:

#

Brand

Country of origin

Sector(s)

Dynamic score

1

Google

United States

Internet, information technology

69.45

2

Amazon

United States

E-commerce, information technology

67.56

3

Samsung

South Korea

Electronics, household appliances, etc

66.25

4

Nike

United States

Apparel, footwear

65.43

5

Intel

United States

Semiconductors

63.56

6

NASA

United States

Space exploration

63.52

7

BMW

Germany

Automotive

63.17

8

Mercedes-Benz

Germany

Automotive

62.38

9

Audi

Germany

Automotive

62.09

10

Lenovo

China

Information technology

61.61

At first glance, the top spots of the D100 correlate closely with longer established brand value rankings, such as those offered by Brand Finance and Interbrand (compilation of the D100 took place before the debacle surrounding Samsung’s recall, and eventual withdrawal, of its spontaneously combusting Galaxy Note 7 line – which may well affect the brand’s high ratings).

But there are a few surprises, too. The US space exploration agency NASA makes the top 10 (Elon Musk’s private rocket-builder SpaceX takes 21st spot with a dynamic score of 59.86). Among major brands conspicuous by their absence are Apple, which came top of Brand Finance’s 2016 list but takes 22nd place on the D100; and Microsoft, in at 5th with Brand Finance but only making 34th here.

Clearly, there is a lot of sense in considering factors such as consumer engagement and product and service innovation when designing a method for assessing brand value. Nevertheless, the D100 ranking does not take any trademark-related factors into account in gauging the competitive advantage that a brand may command in its marketplace. While ‘trademarks’ perhaps fall into the research’s ‘old world’ camp, without considering the extent and strength of trademark protection in relevant jurisdictions, as well as potential sale value of the brand or income linked to it such as royalty revenue, the D100 arguably cannot give us anywhere near a complete picture of the economic value of a brand (particularly one that will be accepted for transactional purposes).  

It should be pointed out that this does not appear to be the prime objective of the D100, and there is no indication that its compilers set out to do this. But it does raise questions about how useful this ranking could prove to be in different contexts, and particularly for trademark counsel. That said, the D100’s focus on areas such as consumer engagement, particularly via social media – a crucial aspect of brand management in today’s connected world – could help all professionals working with trademarks in making brand value assessments. 

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