Interbrand's 2009 Best Global Brands: Coke #1, Google Rising

in Branding Strategy & Trends | by David Capece


By David Capece, Managing Partner

Coke remains the most powerful “syrup turned secret formula” in the world.  Remarkably, a small beverage company from the 1800s turned into and sustained itself as a global icon. Interbrand, which just released its annual list of top 100 brands, declares Coke the #1 brand for 10 years running.  Its brand value of $68 billion is the majority of its $128 billion enterprise value.  The big gainer on this year’s list is Google, which rose 25% to $32 billion, despite the economic downturn.

Interbrand’s list was in turmoil, with many financial firms dropping significantly.  AIG finally dropped off the list,  Citigroup dropped 49%, and American Express dropped 32%.   Autos also struggled with Harley Davidson falling 43%, Lexus down 12%, and Ford down 11%.  As a sign of the times, the new entrants features soup maker Campbell’s and Burger King.

We have scanned Interbrand’s report for some of the top trends that we’ve reported through our blog at Sparxoo.  Many key cultural and business trends are surfacing among the top 100 brands.

Home-Turf King
As we’ve noted, the Internet promotes control, freedom and independence to find anything or connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Interbrand’s Andy Bateman says, “What most brands are still grappling with is the fact that individuals want to have more than control of the conversation. They want to influence what they buy; they want to have control of some aspect of production.”  This trend is embodied by some of the big risers such as Google (+25%) and Amazon (+22%).  However, it’s interesting to note that the leaders, Coke and IBM, are having mixed results with social media.  Coke has a meager 3,500 Twitter followers which is less than IBM’s 5,300.  They are both doing a bit better on Facebook as there are 150,000 members of the Coke / Pepsi Wars that are following the Coke side, and IBM has a group of 17,000 members.

Sensory Mashup
In our Sensory Mashup trend we’ve spoken about the multi-experiential trend:  to re-energize product appeal, many companies are looking toward unconventional ways to speak to our senses-often adding additional, more alternative ways to grab our attention. Interbrand’s Andy Payne says, “The most successful brands are like good actors. These creative brands instantly convey meaning and begin to tell a story. Disney is every child’s friend because it offers the power of magic.”  Indeed, Disney continues to step forward, with its recent acquisition of Marvel.

Back to Basics
The big theme of the last year has been about getting back to basics.  Practicality is key to those modifying their daily lifestyle and simple pleasures are cherished now more than ever.  According to Deloitte, the average office worker checks his or her email over 50 times per day and sends more than 160 messages.  Interbrand’s Leslie Butterfield says, “Not enough brands are paying attention to tangible human interactions or to what true brand experiences entail.  The increased desire among consumers for authentic experiences is a reality. More and more consumers will react against the blizzard of digital distractions that pervade our lives and leave us feeling a little frustrated and empty. They are going to want to fill that void with real experiences.”

There has been a seismic shift in the business landscape.  It is worth noting that in the midst of this shift, many of the top brands remained strong.  Interbrand’s CEO Jez Frampton says it well, “In times of rampant change, brands remain a powerful source of continuity and trust. While this year has been a difficult one for brands and entire categories, the fundamental purpose of brands is to create loyalty and preference over the long-term. Brands provide a degree of security in times of economic instability; and in times of prosperity, brands off er opportunity.”

Screengrab from