Four Key Lessons For Entrepreneurs And Small Businesses From The World’s Best Brands



Over the past few years, I’ve shared lessons that entrepreneurs and small businesses can learn from the world’s best brands. For example, I wrote about five lessons small businesses and startups can learn from the world’s best Brands, the 10 key learnings from PSFK’s Good Brands Report 2009,  the lessons for small businesses and startups from Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2011 report, and most recently, what small businesses can learn from the world’s best brands.

Interbrand, a corporate identity and brand consulting company, just released its 2013 Best Global Brands report. Apple has unseated Coca-Cola as the top global brand. Coca-Cola dominated the top spot for the past 13 years.

In 2000, when Interbrand first started issuing its Best Global Brands report, Apple ranked #36 and had a brand value of $6.6 billion. Today, Apple’s brand value has increased to $98.3 billion– a nearly 15 times increase over its value in 2000.BrandsInterbrand1

According to Interbrand, Apple’s phenomenal rise in brand value can be attributed to Apple’s focus on creating a great experience for consumers. In doing so, “Apple is able to anticipate what they want next and break new ground in terms of both design and performance.”

The Global Brands Report has always contained incredibly useful insights for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The 2013 report has many such insights. Here are four important lessons entrepreneurs and small businesses can learn from the world’s best brands in 2013:

1. Anticipate market trends. 

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky famously said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

The best Brands in the world innovate by looking at the smallest trends. Strong leaders are not afraid to define markets. Apple’s iPhone and BMW’s MINI are two good examples.TimCookQuote1

2. Create an awesome consumer experience.

People’s offline and online lives are intertwined. The best brands create a seamless experience that bridges these worlds. Apple, for example, has created a much envied retail store experience, bringing tens of millions of people to its stores to browse Apple products. But it has also created a phenomenal experience online through its website, and carries that experience forward through its product design.

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3. Leverage crowdsourcing, collaboration and co-creation.

People want to feel a sense of ownership of the brands they include in their daily lives. It’s not enough for companies to send one-way marketing broadcasts. According to Interbrand, “crowdsourcing, participatory activities, pop-up retail, and events all speak to brands needing to share in order to lead … For savvy brands, the experiences that truly lead the way are ones where the company finds ways to share control.”

According to Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s Global Chief Executive Officer:

In today’s global and social media-obsessed marketplace, brand leaders recognize the need to be highly collaborative. The top 100 most valuable global brands are unlocking their value by participating, listening, learning, and sharing – and not just with leaders from within their organization, but with consumers too. Brands that learn to think differently about the role they play in consumers’ lives – and how to fulfill that role – have an opportunity to change the world in ways they never imagined.

4. Be Honest.

Companies are more exposed today than ever before. A disgruntled customer can easily amplify their poor experience by complaining on social networks, creating a video that goes viral, or writing a blog post. Interbrand cautions:

Let the litany of brands that were less than honest in recent years be a cautionary tale: Silence and spin are not your friends now, and they are unlikely to be again. From BP all the way down to any once-trendy restaurant that got bad reviews on Yelp, brands that re not truthful are failing to lead.

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