BRAND HEALTH: Why your brand needs a workout
BrandZ has a way of measuring the health of a brand by monitoring five vital signs that are found in the fittest, healthiest brands. These are:
Purpose (making people’s lives better)
Innovation (leading their sector and shaking things up)
Communications (powerful, creative and memorable interactions)
Experience (that’s right for consumers, when and where they want it)
Love (usually an outcome of getting the other four right)
BrandZ analysts calculate a score on each of these five attributes for every brand assessed for the UK ranking. They then create a composite score that indicates the health of each brand relative to the average for this market. This is called the brand’s Vitality Quotient, or vQ score, and the average score of all brands is 100.
The vQ score matters because there is a strong correlation between brand health – reflected in a high vQ score – and growth in brand value.
When we rank brands in the Top 75 according to their vQ scores, we see that the top half – the healthiest of the brands – have enjoyed a rise in brand value of 9 percent in the past year alone. This is in sharp contrast to the performance of the less-healthy half; they have declined in brand value by 1 percent.
This finding reinforces the need to continue investing in brand building. When brands focus on one important area, such as communications or experience, they add strength and value to their brand, but when they work on several at once, they supercharge their brand value growth.
You’re only as old as you feel
The younger brands tend to be healthier than the older ones, but the data does not prove a causal link between ageing and declining vigour. In fact, several very mature brands are among the most innovative in consumers’ minds – Royal Mail, Dulux, BP, the BBC, British Gas and British Airways are all in the Top 20 most innovative UK brands.
Brands that operate purely online naturally tend to be younger than average, given that the technology that runs them is relatively new, as is the connected audience that consumes them. This explains the average age of just 15 years for the following brands: Asos, Very, Comparethemarket.com, littlewoods.com, Just Eat, bet365, Ocado, betfair, MoneySupermarket.com and Deliveroo. The other 65 brands in the ranking have an average age of 84 years, with some of them aged over a century or two.
Among the Top 10 risers through the ranking this year, youth also appears to be an advantage, but not the main factor behind their growth in value. The fastest-growing 10 brands in the ranking have an average age of 64 years, while the other 65 brands’ average age is 78.
Older brands tend to be more meaningful and more salient, which means that when consumers think of a category, these are the brands that readily spring to mind. Younger brands are generally seen as more different to others in their sector, and on the whole are more innovative.
The brands leading the Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands tend to be more mature in years than those lower down; this picture is in contrast to that in the US, where the most valuable brands – the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook – are relatively young compared to the banks and retailers that come lower down. It’s a similar story in China, where the most valuable brands are technology-based and therefore younger.
Advice for the young at heart
Age influences the way consumers feel about brands, and can work to a brand’s advantage if it’s had time to establish a reputation. The flipside of this is younger consumers are more likely to be seen as dynamic and bringing fresh ideas, but none of this is set in stone. Age is no barrier to innovation, and youth does not stand in the way of meaningful connections with consumers.
Just Eat is among the younger brands in the ranking, launched in 2001. It puts in an outstanding performance on measures that tend to be associated with youth – 19 percent above average on innovation, and 44 percent above average on experience. But it also shines on a range of other measures that might tend to be linked to more mature brands: it has a clear brand purpose, it’s seen as a powerful communicator, and is 37 percent more meaningfully different than the average UK brand. Consistently strong scores across all the factors that lead to good brand health combine to give Just Eat a vQ score of 122, which is 22 percent higher than average. Food for thought?