“Leaving the old behind—the structures, tenets, and modes of operation suited to a world now obsolete—and charting a bold new path into an unknown future that is ours to shape, is a task for leaders: Brands and consumers working in tandem to create shared value.”

The Leadership Issue

By Jez Frampton

In 2013, there has been no shortage of examples showing us how the greater forces of progress, social change, technological advancement—and even nature itself—are reshaping business. In the brave new world of social media, your brand is increasingly shaped by consumer opinion and demand—and is decreasingly under your control. At the speed of business today, innovation often means moving outside of your company’s comfort zone. Big Data is no longer about “collecting it all,” but gleaning actionable, intelligent insights that move your business forward. Design is not an optional or low priority consideration; it’s now the key to a brand’s appeal. Similarly, Corporate Citizenship is no longer a nice-to-have “add-on,” but a palpable ethic that weaves throughout an organization and radiates outward into the world.

In just a few years, all the rules of the marketing game have changed. Leadership roles are converging, traditional structures are crumbling, and the consumers’ voice carries more weight than ever. Less tangible strengths like emotional intelligence and psychological insight are proving to be just as vital to leading a brand today as the ability to generate high ROIs and increased shareholder value. Further, in a world that is increasingly globalized and interconnected, “developing” countries like China are now poised to become bigger players, and collaboration—across borders, across silos, or co-creating with consumers—is more crucial than ever.

Rather than fighting to hold on to what used to work, brands must embrace and adapt to the “new normal,” or smaller, nimbler competitors, who see which way the winds are blowing, will take their place. Leaving the old behind—the structures, tenets, and modes of operation suited to a world now obsolete—and charting a bold new path into an unknown future that is ours to shape, is a task for leaders: Brands and consumers working in tandem to create shared value.

Rather than hunkering down and slashing costs when the territory ahead looks uncertain, brands need to embrace the fact that positive growth comes when brands invest in upgrades and more relevant offerings. Ultimately, world-leading success comes when brands create a space to think big, dream big, and take big actions—not just in business terms, but as Corporate Citizens and agents of cultural change. Brands that unlock this broader potential will shift the public imagination, revitalize organizations and change our sense of what is possible.

Perhaps a sign of the times, Apple—a company that has changed our lives, not just with its products but also with its ethos—has risen to the top of our Best Global Brands list, giving us a new number one for the first time in 14 years. As legions of fans can attest, few brands have enabled so many people to do so much so easily. With a reputation for revolutionizing the way we work, play and communicate, Apple has set a high bar for aesthetics, simplicity, and ease of use that all other brands are now expected to match. Apple’s ability to “think different” and deeply consider the customer experience is what makes the brand a leader—one that has inspired a loyal following and has the whole world anticipating its next big move. Brands, as Apple exemplifies so well, are business strategy brought to life.

There comes a time when we recognize that the world has changed so radically that there is really no choice but to adapt or be swept into irrelevance. Leaders, like Apple and others on our Best Global Brands 2013 list, know what they stand for and what they must do to meet our expectations. With the conviction that they will not only endure but triumph in the face of unprecedented change, they are using new models of creativity, collaboration, and leadership to bring forth a new reality.

Congratulations to this year’s top 100. We look forward to continuing the conversations we hope this report will spark and invite you to join us live at #BGB2013 to celebrate the world’s most successful brands and share your thoughts on the many facets of brand leadership explored in Best Global Brands 2013.


Jez Frampton

Global Chief Executive

Interbrand