NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Every year, global branding agency Interbrand releases its ranking of the top 100 most valuable global brands. The rankings are based on a brand’s financial performance, its ability to connect with customers, how it’s viewed by the public and a variety of other factors. This year the top brand was Coca-Cola (Stock Quote: KO) – not surprising, given that it’s been the top-ranked brand for all 11 years that Interbrand has published the rankings. It was followed by a slew of high-tech companies, including IBM, Microsoft and Google.
But not every company that cracked the top 100 has something to celebrate. The report shows how each brand’s value has changed since 2010, and while most saw positive growth (including Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL), whose brand value grew an incredible 58%), a few suffered foreboding declines.
Take Nokia, for instance. The cellphone maker has found itself a bit left behind by the smartphone revolution, and accordingly saw its brand value drop 15% since 2010. Interband does take an optimistic view in its rankings, however, noting that its deal to begin using Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform “puts it in a good position.”
Also hitting the skids was Sony (Stock Quote: SNE), which saw its brand damaged in early 2011 by a devastating data breach at its PlayStation Network service. It can at least take some consolation in the fact that competitor Nintendo saw its brand decline by 14% in 2011 as Wii sales slowed and sales of the portable 3DS system disappointed.
All of these companies have some reason for optimism in 2012, though: Nokia’s deal with Microsoft could help it establish a foothold in the U.S., Sony has the PlayStation Vita portable on the way and Nintendo will be launching the successor to the Wii, the Wii U.
Still, brand difficulties are nothing to scoff at. PR firm Weber Shandwick announced today the results of a survey that examined the relationship between a company’s reputation and a consumer’s likelihood of buying its products. What it found was that 70% of consumers will avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company, and 87% said that a company’s brand was just as important as a product’s brand. In other words, it’s not enough to put out a good product – if your company has developed a poor reputation, it’s facing an uphill battle.
If you need proof of this, look no further than the Windows Phone. Despite glowing reviews from the technology press, the operating system hasn’t exactly flown off the shelves, and while that’s largely attributable to the head start by Android and iOS in the smartphone space, Microsoft’s sometimes-troubled brand can’t be ignored. While the tech giant ranks third in Interbrand’s rankings, its value declined 3% since last year, making it the only top-10 brand that’s going in the wrong direction. In its write-up of the brand, Interbrand notes that while Microsoft continues to dominate the PC operating system business, it’s in danger of missing the boat as “the future of computing moves to the mobile space.”
Like Sony, Nintendo and Nokia, Microsoft has a chance to turn things around in 2012 with new product offerings. For the sake of their brand, those products will hopefully be a hit with consumers.