Have you ever pondered how much your company’s brand is worth? This is one of those squishy questions that are important, but very hard to determine. The folks over at Millward Brown took a stab at this question and produced what they consider to be the top 100 brands and the monetary value for each.
This year, Apple, maker of the ubiquitous iPhone and iPad, topped the list with a brand worth of an astounding estimated $153 billion. But really, what does that number mean? Some great insight was provided by Andrew Zolli of PopTech quoted on American Public Media’s Marketplace:
Someone famously said of Coca-Cola that if you burnt down every one of their factories, they’d be back in business in a quarter. If you knocked everybody on earth over the head and gave them amnesia, they’d be out of business in a quarter. And the reason for that is that their brand really exists in all of our minds.
That is a pretty succinct way of looking at the power of a brand. It is also worth noting that Apple, before Steve Jobs came back, was floundering but its dented brand still held great allure. Iconic commercials, like 1984, helped cement the company in the public’s collective conscience. Simply put, it was easier for Apple to come back because people knew who they were.
Branding professional services firms is considered more challenging than branding consumer products. In fact of the top 100 brands, according to Millward Brown, only Accenture made the list.
This is not to say that branding cannot and should not be undertaken by entities such as accounting firms or law firms. Rather, it is essential that it is. The tendency of professional services firms to have employees operating as semi-autonomous business entities hurts cross-marketing capabilities and hinders a company when they set out to achieve long-term goals.
What Does a Brand Mean?
A brand affects all aspects of an organization from the look-and-feel of business cards to the nuts and bolts of the services provided. With a clearly defined brand, consistently reinforced in thought-leadership pieces and marketing, a company develops an identity and consumers begin to attach qualities to an organization. Apple is worth a tremendous amount because consumers have the expectation that its devices will be cutting-edge and user-friendly. (Even their battery charger is supposed to be innovative.) A law or accounting firm, when properly branded, can cause clients to feel about them in similar ways. XYZ firm is honest, dependable and forward-thinking. This, in turn, may lead to increased business from existing clients or favorable reviews to potential new business sources.