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"Best Brands" ranking includes imaging heavyweights
(Friday, October 1, 2010 - 18:03 EDT)

Brand management company Interbrand recently released its eleventh annual "Best Global Brands" list, compiled based on its proprietary methodology that assesses economic profit, the brand's role in purchase decisions, and its ability to deliver future earnings.

A press release from Canon U.S.A. Inc., detailing the company's ranking on the list, tipped us off to the news, and the full list can be seen on Interbrand's site. While none of the companies on the list operate solely in the imaging industry, a number of companies with digital imaging offerings can be found on the 2010 list.

Among Asian digital camera manufacturers, Korea's Samsung Group ranks highest. Samsung retained 19th place for the second year running, making it the second best-ranked Asian company on the list, behind Toyota. For the Japanese manufacturers, Canon Inc. ranks highest, holding 33rd place for its second year, after spending the previous six years in the high-30s. By holding station, though, the company overtook its rival Sony Corp., which continued a slip in its rankings that began in 2005. Sony now holds 34th place, five places down from last year, after spending the first half of the decade around 20th place. Another Japanese camera manufacturer making the list was Panasonic Corp., whose efforts earned it a gain of two places to 75th.

Two US companies with digital camera offerings also made the list. Hewlett-Packard Co., best known for its printers, but also a supplier of entry-level digital cameras, scored tenth place on the Best Global Brands ranking. Even higher placed, though, was General Electric Co. -- a company that doesn't actually produce its own cameras, but licenses its brandname to General Imaging Co. for a variety of camera models. That relationship might well be explained by GE's prominent position in fifth place on the list, despite a drop of one place from last year. Cisco Systems Inc., which last year acquired the company behind the popular Flip flash-based camcorder line, retained 14th place for the second year in a row. Two further US companies on the list with some relevance to the digital imaging industry thanks to product lines that include own-branded printers include Dell in 41st place, and Xerox in 59th place.

Three software companies with a presence in the digital imaging market also made the list. After a lengthy stint in second place, Microsoft Corp. fell to third in 2008, a position it retains this year. Since its debut on the rankings in 38th place just five years ago, competitor Google Inc. has soared to just one place behind its arch rival, however. With a 29% greater increase in brand value this year than Microsoft, according to Interbrand, Google's continued gains are likely a cause of great concern in Microsoft's Redmond, WA headquarters. While Apple Inc. does provide some still and video-capable hardware, the company is best known in the imaging community for its software products, and these help it find itself in 17th place, with a gain of three places over last year. Another software company making a significant gain is Adobe Systems Inc., which climbs seven places to 88th on the overall list.

Of course, with all of this, it's perhaps worth taking the list with a slight grain of salt. While provided by a knowledgeable industry source -- Interbrand being among the largest global brand consultancies -- there's no detailed information provided on how exactly the ranking order is determined. The gap in Interbrand's perceived "brand value" between some competitors is quite slim, and only the company itself knows what decisions it has made as to how to weight the variables it considers in compling its index.

Original Source Press Release:

Interbrand Releases 11th Annual Ranking Of The 100 "Best Global Brands"

New York, New York, September 15, 2010 — IBM, Microsoft and Google lead Interbrand’s 11th annual ranking of the “Best Global Brands.” Google (#4) sees a 36% increase in value over last year, bringing the brand closer than ever to rival Microsoft (#3). HP (#10) enters the top 10 for the first time, having increased brand value under a new business model and brand platform. For the 11th year straight, Coca-Cola (#1) retains its top spot as the number one ranked brand on the list.

Interbrand, the leading brand consultancy, publishes the ranking of the top 100 brands based on a unique methodology analyzing the many ways a brand touches and benefits an organization, from attracting top talent to delivering on customer expectation. Three key aspects contribute to a brand’s value; the financial performance of the branded products or services, the role of brand in the purchase decision process and the strength of the brand to continue to secure earnings for the company.

A number of prominent brands faced extraordinary crisis in 2010 resulting in stalled growth, value loss and in the case of BP, failure to make the ranking this year. BP’s environmental disaster and inability to make good on its brand promise of “Beyond Petroleum” led to it falling off of the list and helped competitor Shell emerge as an industry leader, now ranked number 81, up from number 92 in 2009. Although the Toyota (#11) recall caused the brand to lose -16% of its brand value, its long-standing reputation for reliability, efficiency and innovation helped it weather the crisis better than expected. Goldman Sachs (#37) was once the envy of Wall Street, but now faces the dichotomy of strong economic results and an angry public that will continue to lash out until the company begins to demonstrate that it is making sincere efforts to better align its ethics with its brand.

Technology brands continue to lead the pack, with IBM (#2), Microsoft (#3), Google (#4), Intel (#7), and HP (#10) earning top rankings. Apple (#17) increased brand value 37% through carefully controlled messaging and an endless wave of buzz surrounding new product launches. Despite a challenging year, HP made smart additions to its product portfolio and swiftly expanded the HP brand to protect its ranking on the list. With 32% brand value growth, BlackBerry (#54) remains the most popular smartphone for business users, despite pressure from Apple as it edges into the corporate world.

“2010 was the beginning of a long road back towards economic recovery,” said Jez Frampton, group chief executive at Interbrand. “From real-time customer feedback through social media to increased transparency about corporate citizenship, brands were faced with a profound change in the way they relate to customers and demonstrate their relevance and value. Despite this new paradigm of brand management, the advantages of building a solid brand remain the same.”

During a difficult year for the auto industry, Mercedes Benz (#12) and BMW (#15) were able to sustain and build their value through innovative design and a focus on delivering premium value vehicles with luxury features. Using customer feedback, largely drawn from YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to launch the 2009 Fiesta, Ford (#50) stands out as one of the best example of how to use social media. Award-winning products like the Q5 and rich heritage help Audi (#63) lead industry growth this year with a 9% increase in its brand value.

Despite the economic downturn, luxury brands Cartier (#77), Armani (#95), Louis Vuitton (#16), Gucci (#44), Tiffany & Co (#76) and Hermes (#69) all saw the value of their brands increase in 2010 by continuing to invest in their heritage and legendary status. Outstanding customer service and a focus on unique in-store and online experiences allowed them to stay strong, even while consumers cut back spending.

In the financial sector, legacy brands Citi (#40) and UBS (#86) lost double-digits in brand value, while Santander (#68), Barclays (#74) and Credit Suisse (#80) made their debut on the list for the first time. Their ability to stay true to brand promises in unsure times, and avoidance of the subprime mortgage crisis, helped them stay the course. Interbrand’s 2010 Best Global Brands is available in full, along with expanded content and methodology, on www.bestglobalbrands.com.

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