Microsoft Leads the First Annual Brandz™ Ranking of the World’s Most Valuable B2B Brands, worth $122bn after Year-on-year Growth of 5%
Brands that changed focus from product to building their brand and customer experience – including Huawei and Accenture – were winners in a tough year
Microsoft is the world's most valuable business-to-business (B2B) brand, according to the first annual BrandZ™ ranking of the Top 20 Most Valuable B2B Brands, launched today by WPP and Millward Brown in partnership with LinkedIn®. The technology brand – which is ranked no.3 in the 2016 global Top 100) – grew its value 5% in the last year to $122bn, thanks to a strong performance, particularly across its cloud services and operating systems divisions. The Top 20 B2B brands are worth a combined $682bn to the companies which own them.
Huawei (no.11) grew 22% after investing heavily in innovative new technologies such as software-defined networks and cloud solutions that enable business agility. Efforts to raise brand awareness in Europe, including the signing of A-list movie actors and footballer Lionel Messi as brand ambassadors, were also successful. Accenture (no.7, +13%) transformed itself from an outsourcing company to an innovative tech brand by embracing emerging digital technologies including cloud, mobile and analytics, and gained market share by enhancing its global delivery network. SAP (no.6, +2%) improved the customer experience with a hybrid on-premise/cloud offering that supports the full enterprise workflow, when many competitors' approaches are still siloed.
The performance of the Top 20 reflects the challenges faced by the B2B sector over the last year, including financial pressures caused by slowing economies. Issues such as the pace of digitalisation, the battle to attract talent and the changing B2B audience (46% are now millennials) made it harder to retain customers, differentiate from competitors and engage decision-makers. The B2B businesses that successfully increased their value in this climate were those that shifted focus and resources from developing products to building their brands and creating a great customer experience.
Analysis of the BrandZ data shows that people perceive B2B brands as more responsible and better to work for than B2C brands, but less dynamic, innovative and differentiated. This has had an impact on their value.
Ben Lloyd, Head of Millward Brown Corporate, said: "B2B businesses are starting to pay real attention to their brands now, recognising that this has helped their B2C counterparts achieve significant value increases. If they can strengthen their brands by thinking in new ways they'll be in a better position to withstand the macro factors affecting the categories they operate in, connect with their target audience, and attract talent. Developing strong and meaningful brand communications and focusing on the customer experience have a vital role to play here – many B2B brands that are highly innovative are not perceived as such by the audience."
The BrandZ Top 20 Most Valuable B2B Brands 2016 in full:
Note: B2B brands are defined as those that generate the majority of their revenues from their B2B business.
Christina Jenkins, LinkedIn's Director, Global Go-To-Market Research said: "The importance of being a strong brand extends beyond the end-user. B2B businesses are in a constant battle with consumer companies to hire the best employees. The brands that convey a positive impression about themselves, and in particular their ability to innovate, are more likely to be considered as potential employers."
Millward Brown worked in partnership with LinkedIn on survey design, data collection and data analysis. This enabled the BrandZ team to gather high quality, statistically robust B2B data by interviewing a high number of engaged and representative respondents from a wide range of businesses.