Brand Greatness

October 21, 2013

Recently it was announced by Interbrand that Apple had surpassed Coca-Cola as the most valuable brand in the world. Interbrand has said that Apple’s status is in part due to its “legions of adoring fans”.

So, what makes us “adoring fans” to fall in love with a brand, what draws us in?

Recently on a company away day, (#OMDlovein) one of the conversation starter tasks we were asked to do was describe our favourite brand as if it were a person, without giving away the name of the brand.  What amazed me with the results, was how well people could describe the qualities of a brand, how they could transform them into a person and equally how others instantly recognised the brands they were referring to.


Here is a flavour of the “personal ads” with the brand named in brackets after (don’t want to leave you guessing)

  • “ Much loved and reliable car for sale, white and a little worn, I have three red stripes on my exterior” (Adidas)
  • “I’m a 45 year old Brit, seeking fun and adventure; the long term is of secondary concern. I have a wide range of interests including music and travel. I’m a bit scattered, I’m confident and outgoing, friends would describe me as a slightly slutty risk taker” (Virgin)
  • “I’m kind, gentle and very soft spoken.  I believe no matter what shape, size, ethnicity or age that there’s beauty to be found in all of us. I’m often so shocked by how poorly women view themselves that I’ve set up my own self-esteem foundation.  This foundation aims to help young girls to feel good about themselves, just as they are” (Dove)
  • “I’ve got something so good you’ll be “Russian” to try it, I’m an age old classic that will take you right back to the school yard.. wicked – no bull.” (The Collective Dairy – Russian Fudge Yogurt)

All of the above highlight the subjective base of these brands, how they are perceived emotionally and personally, this however cannot be the only isolating factor in what makes a brand great. The usual suspects that are citied as leading or great include the likes of Pepsi, Nike, Disney, Kelloggs, Sony, Toyota and Microsoft, all with very different propositions, but what gives them this cutting edge and brand leadership?


According to Interbrand, there are five leading characteristics that great brands share, as follows:

1)    A compelling idea (captures our attention/need)

2)    A core purpose and supporting values (For example, McDonalds is “Dedicated to Enjoyment”)

3)    A central organisational principle (so you question if your actions are “on brand”)

4)    Most are American (Americans are credited with inventing the practice of branding)

5)    An ability to stay relevant.


So it seems, that Apple as current leader of the pack, is down to its brand strength, which isn’t simply a thin gauze wrapped around its products, it is a carefully planned look, feel and performance of its devices and products.



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