A willingness to embrace technology and innovate has seen three brands from the modern era enter the global BrandZ ranking for the first time.
Adidas, Instagram, and Uber are now three of the world’s top 100 brands in terms of value, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s latest BrandZ report, with technology and partnerships playing a crucial role in their growth.
After stealing the crown as 2017’s fastest riser, Adidas finally makes it into the ranking at number 100, has increased its value by 50% year-on-year to $12.5bn.
Integral to this growth has been a renewed focus on the US, where Adidas says it has put a lot more effort into being more “consumer-centric”.
“We’re trying to become smarter about where our customers are, what they care about, and how we get the right message in front of them at the right time,” explains Adidas Originals’ global director of digital and retail marketing, Swave Szymczyk.
“Digital is an enabler for us and we will use technology as an enabler for that but won’t use technology for technology’s sake. It should be there to help and be the full experience.”
Adidas also opened a new automated ‘Speedfactory’ in Atlanta earlier this year, which will allow it to be much faster to market with new lines, offer quicker delivery and ultimately make it more relevant to consumers.
Every product or service we bring to Instagram is born out of feedback we get from our community.
Gord Ray, Instagram
“Adidas has been coming up on the outside rails for a couple of years now because of innovation and adapting designs to suit more than the traditional European market,” explains Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ global strategy director, Peter Walshe.
“Its success in the US is noteworthy as it has transformed itself from a more niche ‘soccer’ brand to the wider sports and fashion scene. 3D printing of products in selected stores and selling over a million pairs of shoes made from ocean waste speak loudly of a modern, responsible brand.”
Meanwhile, Instagram jumps into the top 100 for the first time at number 91, with a brand value of $14.5bn. It might not be at quite the same level as parent company Facebook at number six, but Instagram is, of course, a much younger brand and has plenty of time to catch up – especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which could have a significant impact on Facebook’s brand value next year.
Walshe says Instagram’s younger, the affluent audience is very attractive for brands to market themselves, with luxury advertisers having particular success.
“Instagram’s growing set of users is on an upward trend, partly because they love using the site which offers a great experience from their point of view,” he explains. “The brand has key success characteristics of being different (which is a strong signal for future growth) and excellent experience that confirms the positive different image.”
Instagram’s product marketing manager, Gord Ray, says listening to its users has helped to build a platform that “enhances people’s lives”.
“Every product or service we bring to Instagram is born out of feedback we get from our community – whether that’s Stories and stickers or the follow hashtag feature,” Ray says.
“Whatever people want to discover or share on Instagram, we want to make sure everyone has a positive experience on the platform.”
Uber features even higher in the rankings at number 81 with a brand value of $16bn. Despite a rocky 12 months, which garnered a lot of negative press, Walshe says the US car-sharing business is continuing to challenge incumbent taxi companies across the globe with its perceived easy-to-use, no-hassle service, and transparent billing.
“It is thought to make customers’ lives easier, which is a powerful engine of brand growth,” he adds.
So what might 2019’s new newcomers look like?
“Ease of access to the brand or service, improvement of the brand experience that makes consumers’ lives easier, and creation and maintenance of being seen as leading the way and being different will be the guiding forces,” Walshe says.
“Innovation that is simply new without perceived relevance will not succeed. So we will see more challengers emerging that pick off aspects of convenience, ease-of-use and a unique experience in categories that have leading brands that refuse to think of their consumers’ needs and innovate accordingly.”
Walshe says we will also see more “borderless” brands driven by the power of the online experience and reach.