A message from our CEO

A message from our CEO


Few moments in our lives, careers and even mankind’s past are truly remarkable. The 2020 pandemic is our moment. Disease and uncertainty have halted life in every corner of society, reshaping and reorganizing economies and ecosystems over one of the shortest periods in history. Each shift profoundly impacts us all. This report, while looking back into 2019 and early 2020, aims to help leaders consider the changes that will impact their companies, specifically the corporate brands.

For over 25 years, Tenet has tracked corporate brands through the longest longitudinal study of its kind. This body of work drives the only exchange traded fund that seeks unrealized value in corporate brands, guides CMOs, CEOs and boards, and helps brand managers understand how communication investments impact company value.

This year’s report, and the supplemental report coming later this year, have special importance to our team. For 2019 and Q1 of 2020 leading into the pandemic, corporate brands were at their highest BrandPower and brand valuations in our research’s history. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others achieved enterprise valuations that seemed impossible a decade ago, lifting many boats with them. With few exceptions, brands have enjoyed a robust time of growth.

Today, we see vast swaths of winners and losers in the pandemic. What is interesting, and unique in modern history, is witnessing many industries face dramatic headwinds while others rise to newfound dominance. It may take years to close the divides between the haves and have nots, if it’s even possible.

Pre-pandemic, consumers had settled into strong B2C and B2B brand relationships. And, in a heartbeat, those relationships shifted. What was essential, was no longer. What is essential now, is redefining our take on companies and their existence. Many consumers are choosing new brands as essential to their lives in this moment. And, craving ones that they have been forced to put aside. Lastly, they’ve deemed new brands as essential to them going forward. The essential brand is the essence of this year’s report. We hope that no matter where you are on the continuum of being essential, that these strategies can help all companies create sustainable competitive advantage and resiliency.

This report is a pre-pandemic snapshot — our follow-up later this year will look toward the other side of the recovery. Both reports will provide CMOs and brand leaders sound guidance to re-center and move forward.

Hampton Bridwell
CEO, Tenet Partners

CoreBrand® Analytics overview

Today’s CMOs are increasingly being asked to defend their brand investments.

They face tough questions that proven methods and tools from CoreBrand Analytics can help to answer:

  • What is the optimal level of spend to drive financial performance? Where can you expect to move the needle and drive the greatest return? What is too little spending? Where is the return negative?
  • When can you expect to show financial returns on communications investments?
  • How efficient is your current spend in achieving brand performance targets? Are you spending more or less than competitors to achieve brand performance targets?

To make a strong business case, you need to be able to answer these questions in a clear and actionable way. That takes the right data to tie your actions to financial value. This will give you access to resources necessary to invest in your brand at the right level.

This goes beyond brand valuation. You require a deeper, multi-dimensional view of brand strength, and the power of your media spending in driving business outcomes.

That’s what CoreBrand Analytics offers, through a suite of powerful tools that enables you to measure and optimize your brand. Since 1990, we’ve set the standard for reliable, historical data and insights that help you predict future outcomes with confidence.

Return on Communications Investment

Are your brand investments delivering the hard financial results that stakeholders expect? Your leadership depends on you to develop a business case that your colleagues can believe in. For CMOs, the need for consistent measurement has never been greater.

Our analysis enables your management team to answer key questions around both marketing spend effectiveness and media efficiency. You can harness the power of precise data to build a consistent measurement program, benchmarking against leaders in your sector and companies competing for your audience.

Measuring marketing spend effectiveness

To foster a deep understanding of return on paid-media, our analysis ties brand investments to hard financial metrics, including your brand’s monetary contribution as a percentage of market capitalization. These same metrics allow you to measure and prove returns over time – vital insight that keeps your business strategy on course.

Predicting outcomes

Our Return On Communications Investment (ROCI) analysis offers a wealth of actionable information. How much you need to spend to achieve a breakthrough in brand value and financial results. What spend level is too little, generating a negative return. And finally, the vitally important point of diminishing returns.

How ROCI analysis supports decisions: marketing spend effectiveness

A ROCI analysis can answer key questions to inform your next spending decision, such as:

  • How will a change in paid-media spend impact Brand Equity Valuation? By how much?
  • How will a shift in investment impact long-term brand health and financial performance?
  • When should you expect to see the impact of brand investments?
  • How big a budget do you need to provide a breakthrough in financial performance? What is optimal paid-media budget to maximize financial returns? Is your budget so small that it will create a negative return?
  • What is the impact of competitor spending on their brand value and financial performance? Based on competitors’ current levels, what risks do you face regarding your brand health?
  • Is creative content moving the needle?

MediaPower Index: assessing media spend efficiency

Our MediaPower Index provides an independent benchmark for quantifying the dollar amount of paid media each company spends to achieve a specific brand health target.

Measuring media dollars spend to achieve a BrandPower target

We can help you identify the right target, and measure efficiency performance over time:

  • Are you spending more or less than competitors competing for your audience’s attention? How much do you have to invest to rise above the noise and meet your brand health target?
  • Is your cost to achieve your brand health target increasing over time? Or is it going down, opening up an ideal window to spend for greatest efficiency?
  • Is there an opportunity to drown out competitors, if your cost for share of voice is much lower than theirs?
  • Where is the sweet spot for spending in your industry? How much is just right?

Return on Communications Investment in action

Brand Equity Valuation

The stakes have never been higher in choosing the right level of resources to allocate to brand investments. A solid Brand Equity Valuation case is essential to gaining leadership buy-in. It’s our mission to help you get it right. And that’s what Brand Science over subjectivity delivers.

We believe in transparency. Our Brand Science approach is rooted in objective, quantitative market research – BrandPower – correlated to financial performance. As a result, our valuations help you understand more than just your brand ranking based on a dollar value.

Time-tested over two decades of market research, our Brand Equity Valuation approach sets the standard, using reliable, stable data that your leadership team can trust.

How our Brand Equity Valuation works

Companies want greater transparency and a clear line of sight into what’s driving the value of their brand equity. Most valuation vendors utilize black-box methods.

Our Brand Equity Valuation approach is the only methodology audited and verified by the Marketing Accounting Standards Board. Experts rate it the most reliable and accurate valuation method available.

Our tools measure your brand’s value as both a specific dollar amount and as a percentage of market capitalization. The quarterly results provide a benchmark comparison between your brand and competitors that you define.

Brand Equity Values in dollars vs. as a percentage of market cap

Our Brand Equity Valuation benchmarking tools make it easy to understand your brand value relative to peers. When a brand’s contribution is lower than the industry average, our analysis can identify growth opportunities and predict return on brand investment. These examples show that Apple’s brand generates the largest dollar value. Benchmarked against tech giants, Apple also demonstrates solid performance for brand value as a percentage of market capitalization.

Brand Equity Valuation decision support

Our data helps you put your brand’s contribution to financial performance in context at any point in time to understand:

  • Is your brand driving greater financial value than competitors’ and CoreBrand Analytics sector benchmarks? How much more (or less) over time? Are you improving quarter after quarter?
  • Is brand driving momentum for financial performance, presenting an ideal window to increase brand investments? How much value can be created?
  • Is decay in brand value dragging down financial results? If financials are improving, is your brand getting credit?

Our Brand Equity Valuation methodology

This independent measurement of brand health provides a truly objective assessment of brand value. Our methodology is completely transparent and involves no “black-box” set of judgments. Instead, we leverage reliable, stable market research, BrandPower data. With 25 years of proven research data, we can ensure consistent input to our model. This statistical model identifies the contribution of the brand and evaluates it in the context of financial data to determine brand dollar value.

Brand Equity Valuation is expressed two ways:

  • The percent that the brand contributes to market cap tells how much value can be directly attributed to the brand. It measures the overall impact of your efforts. In turn, senior leadership can build a business case and evaluate the return-on-brand investments, in a way that is easily understood.
  • The dollar value of the brand is the brand’s value to the company as an intangible asset. This number can change day-to-day as the company’s overall enterprise value fluctuates. It is used to help senior leadership understand the brand’s asset value and is also a measure of the value that the market places on the brand.

Brand Equity Valuation in action

CoreBrand® Index by Sector

Using BrandPower market research data, our CoreBrand Index by Sector offers on-demand benchmarking and actionable insights.

The index delivers instant insight into your brand’s performance relative to your sector average, as well as competitors’. You can track which brands are gaining momentum or losing ground with a single, easy-to-understand index.

For ongoing monitoring and competitive analysis, you can also choose to build your own CoreBrand Index with a custom benchmarking list. This includes direct competitors, partners and companies targeting your specific audience.

The CoreBrand Index methodology

The CoreBrand Index calculates the average for a sector or a custom benchmarking list. The performance of each company is displayed relative to the industry average.


The BrandPower ranking shows how you compare to the most powerful brands, and against leaders in your sector. Through a single measure of brand health that includes familiarity and favorability metrics, you have the ability to monitor your brand and how investments affect its performance over time.

Based on BrandPower data, our CoreBrand® Index by Sector allows you to track which brands are gaining or losing momentum, and so much more. You can also perform custom benchmarking against direct competitors, partners and “mindshare” companies vying for your audience’s attention. This gives you the most relevant insight on your brand performance.

How BrandPower works

To keep your finger on the pulse of your brand health and performance, our analysis measures two key metrics: familiarity and favorability. We collect responses from “opinion elites” – more than 10,000 highly influential stakeholders – on an ongoing basis. This market research data creates an objective, quantified view of your brand health in a single aggregate measure: BrandPower.

The BrandPower 1000 Database includes 25 years of market research, which is constantly updated. This creates the most reliable set of benchmarking data available to predict your future brand performance.

BrandPower Metrics: benchmarking on familiarity and favorability

BrandPower pinpoints your advantages and weaknesses relative to competitors. The example chart above shows that Coca-Cola is in a good position – strong across both BrandPower dimensions. Amex is well known but should work to improve favorability, while Pepsico can benefit from increasing familiarity.

How BrandPower supports decisions

BrandPower research delivers on-demand market intelligence and actionable insights for your industry. To tap unexploited opportunities, it tracks changes in your brand’s favorability and familiarity versus peers, and helps you decide:

  • When does your brand have momentum and opportunity for growth? When is the brand at risk?
  • Which competitors’ brands are in decay, presenting perfect targets for a challenge?
  • What brands in your sector are gaining or losing momentum?
  • How are disruptive forces affecting industry leaders in your sector?
  • What separates brand leaders from followers in your sector?
  • Are you demonstrating brand leadership? Is your brand able to increase familiarity and favorability at the same time? Are you confronted with the “Familiarity Dilemma,” – an increase in familiarity that costs you favorability, common among industry followers?

BrandPower methodology: audience and brand health metrics

Our opinion elite audience is composed of business decision makers and well-educated, affluent consumers who make brand-based decisions every day as part of their business and personal lives. Our brand health metrics include:

  • Familiarity – we ask survey respondents how familiar they are with a brand. Their answers reflect their awareness beyond just the company name.
  • Favorability – we ask those whose familiarity with brands goes beyond name recognition to rate brands based on three factors: overall reputation, perception of management and investment potential.

CoreBrand can also conduct proprietary BrandPower research among custom audiences defined by the client. Our team carries out global research, measuring your most relevant audiences, metrics, attributes and customer experience. As a result, you can determine what drives value and impacts your brand’s health.

BrandPower in action

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See the top 100 most powerful brands of 2016.

Harley-Davidson: #10 Most Powerful Brand of 2015

Top 10 Most Powerful Brands of 2015

#10 Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson, one of America’s most beloved brands, fell from its 2014 #5 position to round out the Top 10 this year. The company has been working to move the customer experience needle with unexpected innovations like Project Livewire – a proof-of-concept electric motorcycle – and the introduction of smaller models. Nevertheless, Harley has been struggling in its largest market, the U.S., as motorcycle industry sales have remained flat. This, along with adverse events in 2014, took a toll. At the height of riding season last summer, the company issued a major recall of near-new motorcycles due to a front wheel locking problem – recalling 66,421 Touring and CVO Touring bikes. The recalls, along with increased competition from rivals and the aging of the company’s core baby-boomer customer base, are likely indicators of why Harley’s Familiarity and Favorability scores both decreased this year.

American Express: #9 Most Powerful Brand of 2015

Top 10 Most Powerful Brands of 2015

#9 American Express

Despite American Express dropping one place to number nine this year, the company continues its lead as the number one financial services brand. This year, the company’s BrandPower score reached its highest level since the 2009 financial crisis. The company has made a significant shift, shredding its once-exclusive “members only” image and embracing a brand positioning that lends itself to being more inclusive and accessible to the mainstream. Its landmark holiday “Small Business Saturday” turned five this past year. Since launch, American Express has spent millions of dollars promoting the initiative – and helped to generate billions of dollars of revenue for thousands of retailers across the country, in a perfect example of how investing in customer engagement can drive business results. The company is also going after a whole new demographic, through a partnership announced this year with Walmart, AmEx launched a new product called BlueBird. Aimed at the “new middle class,” it offers a prepaid card as an alternative for consumers who don’t have a savings or checking account.

PepsiCo: #8 Most Powerful Brand of 2015

Top 10 Most Powerful Brands of 2015

#8 PepsiCo

PepsiCo Inc., the world’s largest snack maker and second-largest beverage company, fell one place to number eight this year. A diverse portfolio of high-profile brands, including its namesake soda, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, Fritos, Lays, Cheetos and Quaker Oats has significantly helped the company in recent quarters. PepsiCo’s snack business is a key driver of the company’s continued success, contributing to nearly half of its net sales. The company has long championed the adoption of new technologies, digital innovation and customer engagement as consumers continue to change the way the engage with media. For example, Frito-Lay’s “Crash the Super Bowl” customer contest, launched in 2006, has been a wild success and has resulted in some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads – content co-created by the customers themselves. The contest was opened up to international consumers in 2014, generating thousands of entries.

Microsoft: #7 Most Powerful Brand of 2015

Top 10 Most Powerful Brands of 2015

#7 Microsoft

Microsoft re-enters the Top 10 Most Powerful Brands this year, having jumped from its eleventh-place a year ago. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s newly appointed CEO, is on the brink of successfully turning the fallen brand back into the technology powerhouse, which prospered under the leadership of Bill Gates. Since being named CEO in February 2014, Nadella has made a concerted effort to build Microsoft’s cloud and mobile business, including the introduction of new versions of its Office suite to reflect customers’ increasing preference for mobile devices over PCs. During the first quarter of 2015, the company posted an impressive triple-digit growth in its cloud services, which include its Azure cloud platform, Dynamics CRM service and Office 365 productivity suite for enterprise.

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