What Small Businesses Can Learn From The World’s Best Brands

We’ve previously shared lessons that small businesses can learn from the world’s best brands. For example, we wrote about five common lessons small businesses and startups can learn from the world’s best Brands, the 10 key learnings from PSFK’s Good Brands Report 2009, and the lessons for small businesses and startups from Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2011 report.

Market research firm Millward Brown has  published its annual BrandZ study, ranking the world’s leading brands. Interestingly, four of the top five and seven of the top ten are technology companies. The study ranks the world’s brands by their dollar value (based on financial data, market intelligence and consumer measures of brand equity).

What additional lessons can small businesses learn from BrandZ 2012 study?

First, great products and services are critical to building a strong brand. Apple, for the second year in a row, is the world’s leading brand. According to the BrandZ 2012 rankings, Apple increased its brand value by 19 percent this past year – to $183 billion (37 percent of Apple’s market capitalization). This was extraordinary – especially since its visionary founder, Steve Jobs, died last year.

Most people write about brands to share their experiences, to offer advice, and to praise a brand.

Second, you can’t coast when you’re the market leader – there’s always someone on your tail. According to the BrandZ study:

Apple continues to innovate and maintain its ‘luxury’ brand status, but faces future competition from Samsung. Samsung is successfully outpacing Apple in a significant number of markets by positioning as a cool, well-priced alternative to the ubiquitous iPhone.

Third, a strong brand will help a company weather tough times. Between 2006 and 2012, a period that saw the economies of most countries around the world challenged with high unemployment and generally unfavorable conditions, the total value of BrandZ top 100 increased 66 percent.

Fourth, reaching the top doesn’t guarantee success. In 2008, Nokia was the world’s ninth most valuable brand. Last year, Nokia was ranked 81st and this year, it fell even further. A company cannot stop innovating because even a strong brand will suffer when you create average or below average products or services.

Fifth, you don’t have to mimic the brand personality of your competitor to succeed. In fact, brands in the same category, but with radically different personalities, can succeed. The key is to understand your brand’s personality and be consistent in your messaging.

I recommend you download a PDF copy of the BrandZ report – there’s much more great insight that we haven’t discussed.