Interbrand rating points to need for brand clarity

NEW YORK: Interbrand's latest ranking of the top 100 global brands reveals how much confusion can damage a brand.

NEW YORK: Interbrand's latest ranking of the top 100 global brands reveals how much confusion can damage a brand.

Sony, Morgan Stanley, Volkswagen, and Hewlett-Packard lost the most ground in the ranking, due to confusion over who they were attempting to be and what they stood for, said Jeff Swystun, global director at Interbrand.

"But if you look at the performance of monolithic brands such as GE or IBM, there is such clarity around their brands," he said. "Their brands exist so strongly that everything they do flows up and supports the corporate brand."

The ranking's biggest surprise was Samsung, which entered the top 20 for the first time and surpassed Sony. Over the past five years, Samsung has posted the strongest gain in value of any Global 100 brand, a 186% surge.

That gain, which is based on financial performance, reflects how Samsung understands its audience better than most companies, as well as its drive to communicate with its audience during a time of media fragmentation, said Swystun.

"The brand is the medal you shine every day," said Peter Weedfald, Samsung's SVP of North America strategic marketing. "It's a promise - everything from coolness to [customer] support."

Sony, however, was not as pleased with the ranking, and pointed out that it a financial evaluator, not an indicator of consumer preferences.

"Of course, we'd like to be higher," said Rick Clancy, SVP of corporate communications at Sony Electronics. "But there are other brand polls, including the Harris Poll, where Sony has been named number one based on consumer preferences."

But Sony is cognizant of the importance of brand, said Clancy. He said the company has new management in place to focus on business strategy and growth.

"The most successful brands know their target audiences and develop messages that are credible and differentiated" to reach those audiences," said Swystun.

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