Hallmarks of the Best Global Brands 2016

Paola Norambuena

For the 2016 Best Global Brands report, we are celebrating growth. Because no matter what the path, the challenge, or the ambition, it all culminates in growth—for companies, for stakeholders, for shareholders, and, when done exceptionally well, for people and for humanity. Among this year’s Best Global Brands, we find some common hallmarks—characteristics that are helping grow brands and businesses.

A clear strategy for growth

In 2015, we experienced a significant amount of streamlining—from strategy to structure, successful brands integrated their operations for greater agility and focus. The results: unprecedented M&A and spinoff activity and restructuring. Regardless of strategy, the more singular the focus of streamlined organizations, the greater their understanding of self and the clarity of what’s next.

Not all growth challenges are the same—whether an organization needs to scale before leaping forward, whether it needs to break a new barrier in order to expand, or whether it needs to reinvent in order to find new relevance, what Best Global Brands exhibit is the ability for deep and honest introspection—but they never get stuck there. It’s about having enough understanding to ensure meaningful change and speed of action.

The blurring of traditional sectors

Where once clear definitions between traditional sectors provided competitive guides and measures, the more that brands create or invest in seamless mecoystems—experiences built entirely around customers—the less clear those lines become. This is especially true in the blur between experiences such clicks and mortar or sectors like automotive and technology. In fact, there’s barely a sector that’s not impacted by technology, while the technology sector itself (one the of the largest and growing sectors represented on the Best Global Brands report) tends to defy definition from one brand to the next.

As these continue to blur, traditional measures and competitive comparisons change dramatically. And it becomes all the more critical that real measures come from a brand’s core—from its business and brand strategy. That way, multidimensional growth is led by an understanding of a brand’s own barriers versus its category norm—and these barriers become a measure of limitations as well as the barometer for potential.

Continue to borrow from the best

Partnerships have played a vital part in the marketplace for some time—as brands and businesses move at an accelerated speed, making significant operational changes becomes harder to do and sustain. That’s where partnerships are key. Far more than a mere marketing initiative, Best Global Brands continue to explore new ways to borrow from the best.

By aligning with complementary partners, as well as acquiring or embracing what others do exceptionally well, each organization can strengthen its core offering, extend its positioning, accelerate innovation, and create new experiences for customers. Selecting these partners or acquisitions takes great care, but the growth opportunity can be exponential.

Cohesiveness for customer-centricity

We’ve seen how technology has paved the way for innovation. Brands across all industries are harnessing its power to create unprecedented, personal experiences—zeroed in on the customer.

To do so demands going beyond traditional branding activities and instead being hardwired cohesively into a company’s business systems and infrastructure. The leading and Top Growing Best Global Brands understand that branding is not an exercise in vanity, but a keen tool for business growth. That’s what yields beautifully connected and intuitive experiences for real people.

While every brand’s path is unique, those making the most impressive strides demonstrate some of these key characteristics—they defy sector norms and have a clear sense of self. They know when to build versus borrow. Their brand and business are cohesive and built around people. And they have a clear strategy for growth. That’s what makes them Best Global Brands.

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