Every year, the marketing powerhouse known as Interbrand publishes a list of the top 100 global brands. These are the companies at the head of the international pack that shape the way the world does business. The best performers have solid balance sheets, strong future prospects, and the respect of consumers far and wide. Interbrand just released its list for 2010, and given the touch-and-go status of the auto industry's health, we were curious to see how many car companies made the cut.
As it turns out: not that many. Here are the ones we found (plus Harley Davidson), with their current ranking and details about where they slotted in a year ago:
11. Toyota (down from #8)
12. Mercedes-Benz (flat)
15. BMW (flat)
20. Honda (down from #18)
50. Ford (down from #49)
53. Volkswagen (down from #55)
63. Audi (up from #65)
65. Hyundai (up from #69)
72. Porsche (up from #74)
91. Ferrari (down from #88)
98. Harley Davidson (down from #73)
Note: Lexus, last year's #96, fell completely off the list.
Interpreting the data
When we see lists like this, we're always curious about the criteria used to assemble them. For this one, we turned to the company's website: "Interbrand’s method looks at the ongoing investment and management of the brand as a business asset. This means that our method takes into account all of the many ways in which a brand touches and benefits its organization – from attracting and retaining talent to delivering on customer expectation. The final value can then be used to guide brand management, so businesses can make better, more informed decisions."
In assessing companies, Interbrand looks at three specific areas: financial performance (i.e. how much money the company is making); the role of the brand (i.e. how much the brand itself affects a shopper's decision to buy); and brand strength (i.e. "the ability of the brand to secure the delivery of expected future earnings"). For you marketing types, there's more about each of those items on Interbrand's methodology overview page.
Given all that, these results are about what we'd expect. The top 100 are brands with broad, international recognition and lots of prestige cachet. Perhaps Maserati didn't make the cut because it lacks worldwide recognition among everyday shoppers, even though it has prestige to spare. Fiat, on the other hand, may be known around the globe, but it lacks the prestige. General Motors sells its vehicles in many, many markets, but it does so under a range of brand names (e.g. Chevrolet, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall), meaning that no particular marque stands out. (And of course, there's GM's balance sheet to consider.)
Click on the graphic above to see the biggest winners and losers this year. And be sure to visit the Interbrand website, where you can tap the "+" sign next to each company's name and see Interbrand's take on its past, present, and future. (It takes a couple of seconds for the info to slide out, so be patient.)