How marketers should use brand valuation

Janet Hull

Anecdotal evidence suggests that, in the weeks leading up to the Business Week issue of Interbrand's annual brand league table, bets are placed among the biggest US brand owners on who will be top, and who will have moved up most places. Putting aside any cynicism about the mechanics of the calculations behind the brand valuation, the league table itself has entered the boardroom psyche, and, for a moment in time, occupies the attention of CEOs. Perhaps this level of interest is understandable given that, typically, half of the top 100 brands in the Interbrand global brand league table are US bred and owned.

There is no doubt that the founders of Interbrand, John Murphy and Tom Blackett, who first developed the concept of brand valuation and a methodology for estimating it, were visionaries and revolutionaries. They were the precursors and champions of a new breed of consultancy, keen to 'bridge the gap between marketing and finance' (in the words of another eminent brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance). But, 20 years on, where has the marketing community got to? How far along the road to revolution have marketing departments and agencies travelled? Are we any closer to achieving our ambition of being recognised, as an industry, for the shareholder value we create, through nurturing and developing brand assets?