Apple and Google are they truly worldbrands – for product or service?

apple and googleLast week I wrote a blog around brand differentiation which lead me on to this week’s blog around the world’s most powerful brands.

Coca Cola, the world’s most famous FMCG giant, was finally dethroned from its stronghold as Interbrand’s most valuable brand – a position it has held since the Interbrand ranking began 14 years ago.

At the top position in the Best Global Brands ranking of the most valuable brands in the world ranking since 2000, Coca-Cola handed over its position as the world leader in the report this year.

Interesting enough replacing Coca Cola are Apple and Google – two brand names that have come to define popular culture and the sign of the times for many global tech users.

The breathtaking rise of these two technological innovators signals a shift in global values, from traditionally “consumable” products to technological enablement.

More than that, though, it provides a valuable lesson for brands and branding experts in how to create a worldbrand that appeals in today’s market.

Google and Apple’s expertise in innovation and new product development (NPD) is a given – valued at $93,291m (£58.5m) and $98,316m (£61.6) respectively, their stronghold in the field is indisputable.

As a result, Coca-Cola took third place with a brand value almost stable (+2%) at $79.21 billion.

Is this just the start of the rise of tech brands to the global market?

In the Top 10, in addition to Apple and Google, the tech companies are well represented with IBM, Microsoft, Intel and Samsung, i.e. 60% of the 10 most valuable brands in the world.

HP (14th), Oracle (18th), Amazon (19th) or Ebay (28th) are not very far. And Facebook, which despite its “merely” 52nd place, has the strongest increase in the report this year with a 43% increase of its brand value.

The presence and growth of digital and tech companies in the ranking of the most valuable brands in the world is not new. But today, it marks a turning point. Symbolized by the “fall” of Coca-Cola – historical and undisputed leader up to now – from the number 1 position of the most valuable brand in the world. The beverage brand is now on third position behind Apple and Google.

Coca-Cola spent 14 years in a row at the number 1 position of the most powerful brands in the world… before being overtaken by Apple and Google.

However, more than a real decline of the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands, we are rather experiencing a stagnation of their brand value (+2% for Coca-Cola, +5% McDonald’s, +1% for Gillette, +8% for Pepsi and Kellogg’s or -4% for Nescafé). Which is, combined with the high increase of tech brands, the reasons that lead to these evolutions in the 2013 Best Global Brands.

If the Interbrand’s ranking includes some results that may surprise (IBM is at the 4th place, Colgate is 50th, etc.), it remains the objective witness of a real change in the consumption patterns among consumers. The new technologies took a major role in the lives of consumers. Tablets and smartphones are selling by tens of millions of units worldwide. More than a billion and a half persons are connected to Facebook. And the transition of a part of our economy towards the information technology industry is now a reality.

Digital and tech brands have completely changed consumption patterns, therefore, the brands “that count”, those which relate to consumers and accompany them in daily life have changed. The companies in the digital and information technology sector are now installed in the front seat of the most valuable and powerful brands in the world. And it’s should stay this way for a moment.

Samsung, which is still seen today as a challenger to Apple, could pull out of the game in the years to come. And as technology continues to evolve, new usage and products should continue to play an increasingly important role in consumers’ lives.

As Interbrand writes in its report: “Every so often, a company changes our lives, not just with its products, but also with its ethos.” This ethos, famously pioneered by celebrated visionary Steve Jobs and summed up in the “Think different” motto, is valuable to us as consumers because it also alters how we are perceived socially, by association.

They have made themselves indispensable, creating a genuine consumer “need” for their products across many levels – emotional, psychological and social.

They have bridged the gap between technology and the consumer, pioneering a new sense of intimacy within the sector. And this they have achieved by starting from the beginning, rigorously building their brands before applying the same rigour to their products.

From this starting point, both have appropriated that recognisable “worldbrand” cycle, with brand attracting not just consumers and sales but also talent; with talent and research fuelling new growth and with that growth leading to an increased capacity for innovation, customer insight and “getting it right”.

Within the tech sector, Google and Apple aren’t just at the forefront of this movement – arguably, they have pioneered it.

But the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands may not have said their last word. They have still thousands of ways to innovate and enhance the customer experience and their relationship with their audience.

The Internet and social media offer them now a new field of possibilities to engage and reach their consumers in a different way, we will have to wait and see.

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