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THE GLOBAL BRANDS SCORECARD 2007

Coca-Cola retains the No. 1 spot; Google outpaces the pack for the second straight year

Google, Zara, Apple, and Nintendo are among this year’s top gainers in BusinessWeek’s annual ranking of The Best Global Brands 2007 For the seventh consecutive year, BusinessWeek has teamed up with Interbrand, a leading brand consultancy, to publish a ranking of the top 100 global brands by brand value.

Reviving even a storied brand isn’t easy once consumers have a negative perception of it. Just ask Ford or Gap, which lost 19% and 15% of their brand value, respectively, in this year’s BusinessWeek/Interbrand annual ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands. Even such perennial winners as Coca-Cola (No. 1) can have trouble boosting their brand. The beverage giant claimed the top spot for the seventh year in a row mostly because it is big and everywhere, but it failed to further grow its reputation because its move into healthier drinks has yet to resonate.

Still, it’s possible to stage a brand comeback. Several such stories emerged in this year’s ranking.

While it’s tempting for a challenged brand to emulate the likes of Google (No. 20), Apple (No. 33), or Starbucks (No. 88), doing so can seem audacious at best, delusional at worst. A potentially more useful exercise: examining brands that have stumbled but recovered. Take Nokia Corp. (No. 5): The Finnish giant realized its focus on making cheap handsets for the developing world was hurting in the US and Europe. Nokia released high-end phones aimed at both the consumer and business user and is showing strength in emerging and mature markets alike.

BusinessWeek chose Interbrand’s methodology because it evaluates brand value in the same way any other corporate asset is valued—on the basis of how much it is likely to earn for the company in the future. Interbrand uses a combination of analysts’ projections, company financial documents, and its own qualitative and quantitative analysis to arrive at a net present value of those earnings. Interbrand takes many ingredients into account when ranking the value of the Best Global Brands. Even to qualify for the list, each brand must derive at least a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizable outside of its base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data.

Interbrand says that all businesses are under immense pressure to provide results quickly. The Best Global Brands study provides a compelling case that those which place high importance on managing the economic value of their intangible assets, and primarily their brands, consistently outperform basic economic measures.

Tangible asset growth is often a slow process that requires deep and resource-intensive long term planning. Intangible asset growth, on the other hand, involves getting the best out of something that the company already owns. It’s a case of managing these assets more effectively, and it’s an efficient method of adding very real value to business.

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