How strong brands today prepare for the path ahead

How strong brands today prepare for the path ahead

Hartmut Scheffler
Kantar TNS


There is no guarantee that the strong brands of today will be the strong brands of tomorrow. This BrandZ report into the Most Valuable German Brands shows which brands are leaders today, and the characteristics that set them apart. If we are to build strong brands of the future, a first step must be understanding the ingredients of successful brand management now, and what has got these brands to such a position. But then we must look to the future.

Kantar TNS and Grey have carried out two studies, under the banner "Brands Ahead", which complement BrandZ by determining the prerequisites of strong brands of the future. These studies include the views of consumers as well as business leaders with responsibility for marketing. The findings allow us to make comparisons across sectors and draw conclusions. Some of the leading brands to emerge as potential leaders in the future include: Amazon, Apple, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Telekom, Lindt, Nivea and Persil. Many people would have predicted these very same brands, but we also have looked at the "why" behind the "which".

We can see that there are "3Cs" that successful brands of the future must manage: Competiveness + Content + Context.

Brand Competiveness: Established drivers remain, but must be reinterpreted. Performance, relevance and differentiation are still fundamental. Brands that are leaders in their categories for competitiveness include Deutsche Telekom, Lindt, Nivea, Volkswagen and Raiffeisenbanken.

Brand Content: Brands must create valuable content that motivates the customer to engage with it and with the brand. This must focus on what interests the user. Think here about brands such as Amazon, Apple, Coca-Cola, H & M, Red Bull, Samsung and Tchibo.

Brand Context: Brands gain in importance as they integrate seamlessly into the daily lives of the target audience. They must be relevant to the needs of the consumer and reflect their values. Examples of strong performers in this area include Congstar, Innocent Smoothies, Kerrigold, Samsung and Weleda.

Once the 3Cs are in place, then a brand must consider what we call the 3Ps, which apply across a wide range of industries. They are:

Personification: Brands must have advocates, and amplify their voices via digital media. Brands that are strong in this area now include Aldi, Bose, Nivea and Nutella.

Presence: Size, continuity and relevance give a brand a strong advantage. Allianz, Coca-Cola, Nivea, Persil and many car manufacturers have a head start here.

Profiling: Expectations are the key to success. Successful brands need to understand precisely what consumers expect, and match or exceed those expectations in the way that Bose, Edeka and Lindt do now.

As brands look to fulfil both the 3Cs and the 3Ps, they must ask themselves:

  • Have you sufficiently considered the visibility of the brand beyond your target audience of today?
  • Do you understand the importance of your brand’s future for your customers, and how you stand compared to the competition?
  • Do you understand the drivers of brand visibility in your category?
  • Are personification, presence and profiling part of your marketing strategy, especially with regard to branding, communication and customer service?
  • Is your brand's future viability an explicit brand-building goal?
  • Are all employees also brand ambassadors?
  • Is the brand agile enough to adapt to different situations, to the spirit of the times, and to changing social conditions – while staying true to the values of the brand?

One of the most forward-looking brands in all of these areas is BMW. In addition to getting it right on the 3 Cs, BMW also fulfills the three Ps for the future: presence, profiling and personification. For 12 out of 15 future drivers questioned by Kantar TNS and Grey in the Brands Ahead study, BMW leads the motor vehicles category on a range of measures, from  trust in the brand through to innovation, transparency, a positive public image, having contact options in social media, as well as recognition of their size and relevance in the market. For no other car brand does such a high proportion of the population believe it is both important and very likely that this brand will be available in five years. BMW has achieved this through consistent and continuous brand management over many decades; their investment has given the brand the strongest prospects of future viability.