A message from our CEO
WELCOME TO TENET’S 2019 TOP 100 MOST POWERFUL BRANDS REPORT.
This is a tumultuous time for corporate brands and leaders navigating the ever-growing complexities of global markets.
The past five years have seen the most significant expansion of brand value for U.S corporate brands in the history of the CoreBrand Corporate Brand Index. Yet, at the same time, some of the most iconic brands in history have fallen precipitously.
Without question, Digital Transformation and new business models are setting the standard. The dramatic rise of “platform” based companies, such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, is forcing others to follow their lead. Affectionally called “FAANG” stocks after their initials, these notable examples account for 40% of the rise in the market and are even larger in Brand Value. In this current report, FAANG stocks represent a staggering $300 Billion of brand value.
A common thread that makes these companies unique is their unrelenting embrace of data to drive their platforms. For many of the companies that are lagging behind, closing the data gap is daunting as Big Tech is accelerating the digital economy at a blinding pace with levels of capital investments that are hard to match. So much so, regulators around the world are increasingly concerned about the power these corporates wield.
Brand Power is also playing an outsized role in the success of these leaders. Brand is not only a result of a well-spent investment in communications; it’s also a tool that focuses and delivers a competitive advantage. The network effect of the brand experience is well-played by these platform companies, and they are taking advantage of the opportunity.
WITH GREAT BRANDS COME GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Technology companies have become the darlings of today’s businesses. They are employers of choice, enjoy strong reputations for management, and are loved by investors. This multiple dynamic becomes a powerful source of capital that enables these firms to scale in ways that most experts thought was not possible.
But there’s also a downside to so much brand power. New players are quickly learning that there is also a greater risk in being a big brand. Facebook, one of our fastest risers over the years in the Top 100, has declined for the first time in our research. Their misstep on consumer privacy and a blind eye to ethics has put Facebook’s management and reputation on the defensive. We expect similar stories to unfold in the years ahead as the world grapples with the profusion of intelligent systems, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced analytics. These new technologies can deliver experiences that touch consumer emotions, and more darkly, even manipulate the masses. It’s a power of branding that is not yet well understood by these companies. Ultimately, how companies build stronger governance of their systems and how they align with consumers will be key.
TRADING IN BRAND VALUE
2019 is our third year as the data engine for the only brand-based index, BVAL, and the publicly traded ETF under the same stock symbol. The Brand Value Index seeks to find unrealized value in strong brands such as some American icons like GE, Amazon and Microsoft. That may not be a great sign for these companies, but a good one for investors. Our research shows that Brandpower tend to fall at a slower rate and are very hard to destroy rapidly. Even then, brands can show tremendous resiliency. As under-performing brands like GE struggle with the shift, we believe that the best of them—especially those companies with management teams who can embrace transformation—have an opportunity to create new value. Of course, a few will flame out, but that’s the exception, not the rule.
BRAND SCHOLARSHIP EXPLORES INNOVATION
Our work in exploring how perceptions of innovation may relate to a company’s ability to survive is telling. Dr. James Gregory, our Chairman Emeritus, recently completed a compelling paper that explores the relationship of innovation to a company’s valuation. He discovered that perception of innovation is a predictor of a company’s revenue multiple. Stop for a moment and think about it—a perception of any kind that predicts a financial component should be a wake-up call for all CEO’s and CFOs. Dr. Gregory’s work is a remarkable breakthrough that also illustrates the percentage of a company’s stock price is attributable to its corporate brand investments, as well. The work by our CoreBrand team to help leaders understand the value in these intangible assets is a source of great pride at Tenet, and an important tool for corporate leaders.
As you study the Top 100 brands and their movement in this report, it’s a look into the performance of leading companies, how they manage their brand asset, for better or worse. Our aim is to help leaders across the C‑suite and boards who must make difficult decisions have greater understanding of the role their incredible brand asset plays in driving corporate value, performance and resiliency.
CEO, Tenet Partners