Coke, Nokia must adapt

22 March 2011

NEW YORK: Major brands such as Coca-Cola and Nokia need to adapt if they are to arrest a decline in value, consultancy Brand Finance has argued.

In the company's annual rankings of the largest intangible assets, Google improved from second last year to first this year, with an estimated net worth beginning at $36.2bn and now reaching $44.3bn (€31.1bn; £27.2bn).

Reasons for the firm's ascension incorporate the Android mobile operating system, a burgeoning not-for-profit arm, and assisting urgent rescue efforts in both New Zealand and Japan.

Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, is taking over from current chief executive Eric Schmidt, and predicted considerable possibilities lie ahead.

"When we started Google, people actually thought we were coming in too late, that there were already a lot of other search engines," he said.

"And the internet, and really people's computing life, is really still at the very early stages ... We're really only at the beginning."

Microsoft climbed from fifth to second, logging an uptick surpassing $9bn, to $42.8bn, aided by a concerted R&D drive yielding the Kinect motion-sensor gaming appliance, Office 2010 and Windows 7 Phone.

"The controller-free entertainment experience is revolutionising the living room. Kinect is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history," said Peter Klein, Microsoft's chief financial officer.

Office 2010 has also proved the most popular consumer version of the software package to date, and the Windows 7 Phone is available in 30 markets, and boasts a 93% customer satisfaction rate worldwide.

Retailer Wal-Mart, first in last year's table, slipped to third and shed around $5bn as the recession recedes, posting $36.2bn, while IBM accrued an additional $2bn, on $36.2bn, indicative of a wider shift.

David Haigh, Brand Finance's chief executive, said: "From a global perspective, five of the top ten's largest growers are technology-related companies, reinforcing the importance of embracing technological innovation to give a seamless, value-enhancing brand experience."

In further confirmation of this, telecoms network Vodafone gained two spots, occupying fifth as its net worth surged by more than $1.5bn to $30.7bn, not least thanks to investments in Australia and Africa.

Morten Lundal, Vodafone's group chief commercial officer, said: "The Vodafone brand strength is the sum of everything we do.

"We are, therefore, very pleased to see this ranking of Vodafone as the UK's most valuable brand and the most valuable telecoms brand in the world."

Handset manufacturer Nokia, however, fell $9.9bn, after lagging behind in the smartphone race.

Stephen Elop, Nokia's new chief executive, recently signed a collaboration deal with Microsoft, in an attempt to move the Finnish organisation away from what he termed a "burning platform".

"The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience," he said.

"Android came on the scene just over two years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable."

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola fell outside the top ten, claiming sixteenth on $25.8bn, having been in third last year on $34.8bn, due to changes in Brand Finance's methodology and rising desire for healthier drinks.

Energy giant BP tumbled 53 places as its numerical rating contracted by $3.4bn to $8.8bn, although Brand Finance's tracking studies suggest it collapsed to a low of $4.7bn during August 2010.

Facebook debuted on $3.7bn, with concerns about monetisation and privacy issues offset by a colossal audience and penetration into new countries.

The Brand Finance report was based on analysis of each asset's relative strengths, risks and opportunities, sales projections and a calculation regarding how much it would cost to "rent" its name.

Data sourced from Brand Finance, Guardian, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff