Forward-thinking companies that prioritise technological innovation around products and services essential to people’s lives reigned supreme in the 2023 FutureBrand Index unveiled today.
The data suggests that the future of brands hinges on their ability to avoid the ‘Purpose Void’ – a place where an ever more informed and enquiring public relegates organisations which fail to practise what they preach – and demonstrate genuine corporate purpose through tangible impact.
The most notable risers on the list – which includes Microsoft, Tesla, Unilever, Nestlé and Amazon – are known for their ability to fulfil more fundamental human needs amid increasing levels of global uncertainty caused by climate change, international conflicts, inflation and the rise of AI.
“At a time when a lack of trust is eroding societal confidence, brands must demonstrate their stated corporate purpose through tangible, everyday experiences, now more than ever,” said FutureBrand Australia CEO Rich Curtis.
“For those brands that do, the possibilities are endless. Whether that means getting it right with the all-important basics for everyday experiences or making the right connection with your own people – marketers and non-marketers alike – in order to deliver those experiences across your organisation and its ecosystem of products, services and interactions.”
Tech rivals Apple (No. 1) and Samsung (No. 5) share the Top 5 with business-to-business companies posing the backbone of people’s everyday lives. CATL (No. 2) is enabling the future of transport with its EV batteries, while the microchips produced by TSMC (No. 4) power everything from smartphones to AI. Finally, NextEra Energy (No. 3) develops renewable energy solutions in a world teetering on the edge of a climate crisis.
“Brands have never been more tangible. You can buy them, sell them, eat them, work for them, even walk inside of them and experience them every day,” added Curtis. “Brands must be beacons of purpose-based action if they’re to play a meaningful role in people’s lives. Our survey respondents identified the most future-thinking brands as those whose clear visions of change for the better are matched by their authenticity in both words and actions.”
The newly released index, produced by brand-led business transformation company FutureBrand, focuses on 100 companies with the largest global market capitalisation, as determined by PwC. The index is based on research around brand perception and includes an in-depth survey of business professionals in 15 countries.
Notable FutureBrand Index insights:
AI investment polishes brand halo: Actively investing in emerging technologies such as AI is an essential factor driving a company’s brand perceptions success. Leading AI software and chips supplier Nvidia ranks in No. 8, while ASML, which provides equipment chipmakers use to produce AI chips, came in No. 9. Other brands forging ahead in AI also jumped up the list, including Microsoft (No. 6) and Intel (No. 22).
Consumer brands make a comeback: Over the last two years, the FutureBrand Index has tracked B2B businesses as they have marched up the Top 100. But with economic and geopolitical uncertainty persisting into this year, consumer brands have leapt back up the list. Amazon (No. 16) jumped 15 places YoY, a sign that its inflation-proof pricing models and commitment to speed and convenience are more imperative than ever before. In addition, Unilever came in No. 18 – a rise of 13 places since it was last featured in the index in 2021, and Nestlé (No. 20) returns to the Top 20 for the first time since 2015.
Corporate responsibility efforts bolster brand ranking: Overall, companies that are known for trust, respect, resource management, and dedication to their mission ranked higher on the list. Companies that displayed a corporate conscience and responsible governance resonated strongly as seen by the performance of NextEra Energy and CATL.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Coca-Cola were deemed the most valuable companies in terms of the perception of their diversity, equity, inclusivity, belonging, and accessibility (DEIB) efforts. Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft and Google ranked as the companies when it comes to implementing more circular business models.
“Signature moments have a pivotal role to play in turning strategy into reality, but it is equally important simply to get the basics right and do the little things well. This starts with having a relevant purpose that supports what people really care about today, and then making that real for them. It’s those everyday experiences that can sometimes make the biggest impact, every day,” said Victoria Berry, FutureBrand Australia’s Head of Strategy.
Notable sectors’ key insights:
● Consumer discretionary is this year’s dominant sector, as today’s unsettled economic and political environment drives people towards companies providing quality and safety in their everyday lives.
● Of the 10 consumer discretionary brands in the Top 100 this year, four now sit in the Top 20, including Tesla (No. 7), Nike (No. 12), Toyota (No. 15) and Amazon (No. 16).
● After two years as the index’s top sector, information technology continues to be regarded as important, coming in as the second-best performing sector in 2023.
● Six out of the index’s Top 10 brands are from the information technology sector, including Apple (No. 1), TSMC (No. 4), Samsung (No. 5) and Microsoft (No. 6), Nvidia (No. 8) and ASML (No. 9).
● The sector has also shown a strong performance among this year’s Top 100, with companies experiencing growth in brand attributes that ‘make lives better.’
● Unilever and Nestlé have launched into the Top 20 this year, coming in No. 18 and No. 20, respectively. Anheuser-Busch InBev has similarly catapulted up the list (up 25 places to No. 39), while L’Oreal has risen 16 places to No. 42.
Energy & Utilities:
● Despite a persistently challenging market for energy and utility firms, there were some huge jumps up the Top 100 within the sector this year.
● Last year’s leader NextEra Energy remains in third place – a testament to its work developing renewable energy solutions in a world teetering on the edge of a climate crisis.
● Companies that play a critical role in keeping people across the world connected via its internet and mobile networks have improved their positions, including AT&T (up 32 places to No. 38), Verizon (up 10 places to No. 63), and T-Mobile (up six places to No. 84).
● Meta Platforms has slid down 12 places to No. 17. Still, the business remains far ahead of its 2021 placement, when it came in at No. 49.
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