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The positioning of the three most valuable brands in the world

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Although the estimates of how much various brands are worth differ, depending on who has carried out the calculation (read here where these differences come from), the most popular rankings of the world’s most valuable brands are almost unanimous in that Apple, Google and Microsoft hold the top three spots.

Interestingly, what makes these brands stand out is not the distinctiveness of their positioning but its relevance combined with the unique product offering and the fact that they are amazing at execution (which are the key characteristics of a successful brand strategy; we wrote about it here).

Microsoft – empowering people and organizations to achieve more

Microsoft’s brand and communications strategy has changed noticeably since the appointment of Satya Nadella as the new CEO in 2014. The company introduced a new mission statement, “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”, to give a sense of unity to its separate business entities.

Additionally, Microsoft placed a stronger emphasis on communicating the overarching brand to make sure that people associate Microsoft with some of its famous products, including Xbox and Skype. Before that, Microsoft had been known for its product-centred communication. It rarely promoted its master-brand and was more concerned with explaining the features of its advertised products. Now, it focuses on consumer benefits instead.

Microsoft also changed its tone of voice, stopped using corporate jargon and started adopting a more human and emotional style.

Google – organizing the world’s information

With its diverse portfolio of products (search, Maps, Chrome etc.), Google helps people learn more about the world around them and enables them to find any information they need. Even though the brand is neither a creator nor a publisher of these pieces of information, because of its ability to understand the searcher’s intentions and distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of data, Google in a way has become a trusted source of information itself and as such is by many associated with wisdom and knowledge. Google sees its mission as making a positive impact on people’s lives by organizing the world’s information and making it easily accessible.

Not everyone remembers today that in the past Google was reluctant to promote its brand and rarely advertised. This changed a few years ago, when the company realised that people wouldn’t find out about their products without effective marketing communication.

Apple – creating a better world through technology and design

For many years, Apple was a challenger brand on a mission to revolutionise the personal computer market. Although Apple’s core belief (“people with passion can change the world for the better“) hasn’t changed, its communication strategy and messaging have. Apple outgrew the challenger’s role, expanded its product portfolio significantly and became one of the market leaders.

As a result, the brand had to apply a more mainstream approach to its communication: it moved from symbolism to more literal messaging and from image-driven communication to product campaigns showcasing the benefits of Apple flagship products. It’s also apparent that the recent Apple’s ads build a warmer image of the brand and are more human and humorous than they were in the past, when their tone of voice was more uplifting and aspirational.

To stay relevant, each of the three most valuable brands in the world has gone through significant changes in their approach to branding and communication. Microsoft has changed its mission and put more emphasis on the umbrella brand, Google launched more brand and marketing activities and Apple took on a more mainstream approach and began focusing in communication on its flagship products rather than the overarching Apple brand.

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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.

BrandStruck ithe only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.

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