To know where you’re going (or want to go) as a Marketer, it’s helpful to know where you’ve been and where others have gone before you.

Over the holidays and to date, I’ve been researching some new ways to profitably build my client’s brands this year and came across Millward Brown’s annual BRANDZ Top 100 Most Powerful Brands Rankings (released April , 2007). I’ve read it several times and suggest you should too. (See chart on left for Top 20 list)

Here’s the skinny.

Google is ranked as the top brand in the world beating last year’s leader Microsoft which dropped to third (lost 11% of its brand value) and GE which rose to second place. Last year Google was in 7th place, but it’s meteoric 77% rise landed it in the top spot.

So what can you learn from this report? Here’s a quote from Millward Brown’s Big Kahuna.

"Success stories from this year’s Brandz Top 100 demonstrate that winning brands leverage major market trends effectively to create business value," said Joanna Seddon, chief executive for Millward Brown. "Strong brands are capable of extending into areas of opportunity to access new revenue streams and to help businesses respond to market changes."

Seddon’s two key insights which are worth repeating.

  1. Winning brands leverage major market trends effectively to create business value
  2. Strong brands are capable of extending into areas of opportunity to access new revenue streams and to help businesses respond to market changes

So, as you build, re-build and course correct your plans for marketing success in 2008 ask yourself these questions:

  1. What market trends are going on right now in our industry and other industries?
  2. What market trends are predicted to occur in the next 3-5-10 years?
  3. Do we have the leadership, people, budget, mind sets and skill sets to exploit and take advantage of these key trends? And, have we built-in some flexibility to our plans? And, if not, why not and what do we need to do to not only get on the bus, but get a license to drive it!

And pay attention to these key actionable insights from the BRANDZ rankings report:

The rise of the East. Emerging market consumers, especially those in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) have more disposable income than ever and are looking for Western brands offering relevant and meaningful goods and services. Question – Can you use the Internet to become a more global brand?

Converging technologies. Convergence, which is the ability to mix and match different services (voice, data, GPS, music, internet, email, etc.) and deliver them over different devices can help improve your customers lives.  Question – Is your customer service department open 24/7 and can you help people through their preferred communication channel? Net – are you easy to do business with?

Delivering on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Many major brands such as an oil company like BP (Solar Energy), an automobile manufacturer like Toyota (Prius), a Rock Star like Bono and U2 (AIDS) find ways to become a better neighbor and know that long-term they reap what they sow. Question – How do (will you) consistently deliver on your promise to be socially responsible in some unique and meaningful way?

Help health conscious consumers. Observe how major fast foodies such as McDonald’s and Burger King have repositioned themselves with healthier food items on their menus.  In fact, BK has realized a 63% increase in its brand value and McDonald’s stock continues to rise in a poor economy! Question – Can you help in some way too? If you’re not in the food business, can you help your employees become healthier with flex-work schedules, better insurance plans, benefits packages (paid sabbaticals, fitness plans etc.,)?

Now, why should you work hard to create a more powerful brand? Certainly it’s about the Benjamins, but here are 6 more reasons why:

  1. Strong brands create significant value for your business
  2. They permit you to charge premium prices
  3. They lower your cost of new market entries
  4. They reduce business risks
  5. They help you attract quality employees
  6. And, they help you and retain them too

And, here are 10 more reasons!

Here are Millward Brown’s top 10 ranked sites, by brand value:

   1. Google–$66.4 billion
   2. General Electric–$61.9 billion
   3. Microsoft–$55 billion
   4. Coca-Cola–$44.1 billion
   5. China Mobile–$41.2 billion
   6. Marlboro–$39.2 billion
   7. Wal-Mart–$36.9 billion
   8. Citigroup–$33.7 billion
   9. IBM–$33.6 billion
  10. Toyota Motor–$33.4 billion

Source: BRANDZ Ranking 2007

Work smart and work hard to hang ten and ride some new wave trends in 2008+.  You’ll be glad you did.