In an age when customers and stakeholders expect more than ever from companies; in a time when people scrutinize what companies do much more than they did only a few years back; only savvy brands can expect to grow, and make a positive impact on their audiences. APCO Worldwide defines the savviest of all as Champion Brands, and shows you the road to become one, with a first-of-its-kind global study that measures the brand strength of nearly 600 of the world’s largest public and private companies, and identifies the top 50 of them all.
Champion Brands have traveled a long way from push strategies, to building genuine relationship with consumers and stakeholders, to working in the best interest of the society:
“Audiences worldwide increasingly expect companies to contribute to positive social change,” explained Margery Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide. “And corporate leaders now recognize they are an essential part of the societies in which they operate – essential for what they bring to the market, for the economic and social value they bring to the community and for how they can help transform the social and environmental challenges of our time.”
APCO Worldwide Formula for Champion Brands
The top world brands today, aka the Champion Brands, share common traits, and a common formula, that blends four key ingredients: Alignment (Al); Authenticity (Au); Attachment (At) and Advocacy (Ad).
- Alignment: meeting stakeholders’ most important expectations
- Authenticity: acting in a way that is consistent with what a company says
- Attachment: the extent to which stakeholders connect emotionally with a company
- Advocacy: advocating on behalf of stakeholders’ interests, applying unique expertise and assets to add value to society
This is APCO’s 21st-century framework for building corporate brands, and it is based on a study conducted by APCO Insight®, which surveyed more than 70,000 people in 15 countries.
“The study demonstrated that excellence on each attribute is increasingly difficult to achieve, but as companies advance through each dimension they do more than simply build product brand value,” explained Bryan Dumont, president of APCO Insight. “Companies that perform well against all of the 4As move from being good corporate brands to becoming Champion Brands, and Champion Brands are winning in this new environment.”
Top 50 Global Champion Brands
Among the top 50 world Champion Brands you’ll identify many names you already know, and many Internet companies, like Adobe, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and others. But the list is not limited to them – consumer brands can be Champions too, based on the same formula revealed above. Here are the top 50, as identified by APCO’s Champion Brand Index, in alphabetical order: 3M Company, Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Bayer, BMW Group, Canon, Caterpillar, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Deere & Company, Dell, Discovery Communications, Disney, Ford Motor Company, Google, H.J. Heinz Company, The Hershey Company, Home Depot, Honda Motor, HP, HTC Corporation, IKEA Systems, Intel Corporation, International Business Machines (IBM), Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Levi Strauss & Co, LG Electronics, MasterCard, Michelin, Microsoft, Nestlé, NIKE, Panasonic, PepsiCo, Philips Electronics, Procter & Gamble
Samsung, SC Johnson & Son, Sharp Electronics Corporation, Siemens, Sony Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, The Coca-Cola Company, Toyota, Visa, Volkswagen Group, Whirlpool, and Yahoo!.
According to Margery Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, these brands have best aligned their business strategy, vision and values with the shared interests of their stakeholders:
“Today’s most successful brands – Champion Brands – are creating enduring relationships with their stakeholders by creating societal value while also delivering corporate value.”
Focus on the “Stakebroker”
The “Stakebroker” is a new entity identified by APCO in a group of engaged individuals who are different from traditional influencers. Stakebrokers act and think differently, and they are interested in the success of the companies, unlike traditional influencers, who may, or may not have the companies’ interests at heart. Stakebrokers are highly engaged and influential individuals and broker information and influence to both the masses and elites. They seek information, join groups, do things to drive change and believe in the power of companies to shape a better society. This is what makes them crucial to becoming a Champion Brand:
“In terms of future-proofing a corporate brand, these are the people – generationally and geographically – to whom the company needs to pay attention,” said Robert Schooling, president of APCO’s Americas region.
You know the formula, you know your target audiences, now it’s your turn to become a Champion Brand. If you want help on the way, APCO may have just what you need.