What’s in a Brand?

  Interbrand is a company that, among other things, develops valuation of the strengths of brand.


Interbrand is a company that, among other things, develops valuation of the strengths of brand. They’ve created a methodology for doing this, taking into account internal and external factors, so it is financial and perceptual.

It recently released its 2011 Ranking of the Top 100 Brands.


Perhaps not too surprising is that Coca-Cola is the number-one brand in the world. What may be somewhat surprising to those in the auto industry is that there is no automotive brand in the top 10.*

The first auto brand comes in at 11.

It’s Toyota.

And the second comes in at 12.

It’s Mercedes.

Cisco at 13, Nokia at 14, then BMW at 15.

Honda is raked by Interbrand at 19.

Then you have to go way down the list to 47 to find Volkswagen. And the only U.S.-based automotive company comes in at 50, Ford.

Which means that GM is not in the Top 100.

What’s interesting is that the top 10 consists entirely of U.S. companies. But you have to go halfway down the list to get to a U.S. automotive company.

So I figured that another Interbrand ranking might serve the U.S. vehicle manufacturers in a better way. I consulted its Best Global Green Brands 2011 Ranking.

With cars like the Volt, GM has to be a slam dunk, right?

Well, there is a slight problem because in the methodology it states, “The starting point for the ranking is Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list. Brands on this list have a global presence and a demonstrated record of delivering value to their stakeholders.”

No GM.

Ford makes the list of 50. It is at 20. Which is a better showing than in the other list. But its Global Green ranking is sort of good news-bad news. Good because it is there. Bad because of the auto manufacturers on the list, it is in last place.

The top of the Best Global Green Brands 2011 Ranking?


That’s right: of all of the companies in the world, Toyota is in first place  when it comes to being thought of as being green (place and show go to 3M and Siemens, respectively).

Let’s review: the brand that was hammered due to quality concerns and alleged ghosts in its machines, the brand that went from being able to do no wrong to being able to do no right, is the top automotive brand in the ranking of all brands, and the number-one brand when it comes to green credentials and perceptions.

Looks like that whole Prius exercise that some people in Detroit were far too dismissive of (most of whom no longer work in the companies they worked at when they sniffed at that so-called “science experiment”—wait, one of them still has a job) has paid off.

Going down the list to the next automotive company it is Volkswagen at 6, followed by Honda in 7. Hyundai makes 11, ahead of BMW at 12. It is Mercedes at 16, then Ford.

To be sure, vehicle manufacturers the world over are doing a better job at producing vehicles that are far more green than ever.

But it seems evident from the Interbrand surveys that (1) automobile companies may not be quite as top-of-mind as they might think themselves to be and (2) they have a long way to go to convince people that they really are as environmentally aware and active as they portray themselves as being.

And it should be noted that in the case of green, Toyota outscores 3M by just 0.86 points, so there are no laurels to rest on.

*The other brands in the top 10 are IBM, Microsoft, Google, GE, McDonalds, Intel, Apple, Disney, and HP.