What can we learn from some of the world’s best brands?

For every brand superstar, such as Bunnings, there’s the story of a failed competitor like Masters. This clearly begs the question: Why do some brands fail, while others are raging successes?

It’s a question that engenders endless debate among business owners and marketers. And despite many brand ranking lists, the answers are usually subjective. That said, it’s possible to discover much from the strategies of flourishing brands such as General Electric, McDonalds and Canon, and others, which consistently make the superstar lists.

Three of the world’s best brands

In truth, General Electric, McDonalds and Canon are not necessarily the biggest, the most loved or the most successful brands in the world. But each has an interesting story to tell. We’ve sourced the Forbes Magazine brand value list to demonstrate where General Electric, McDonalds and Canon currently rank.

GE: #10 on the Forbes most valuable brand list

Despite having an incredibly diverse portfolio of products and services, GE has united its entire organisation behind a very successful brand. Operating across ‘Power & Water’, ‘Oil & Gas’, ‘Energy Management’, ‘Aviation’, ‘Healthcare’, ‘Transportation’, ‘Appliances & Lighting’ and GE Capital, the US multinational focuses its messaging on how ‘GE can change the world’. It has achieved branding success by settling on four distinct messages: building; curing; moving; powering, which best describe its multi-layered offerings. In turn, GE’s branding has created a simple message to describe a complex business structure.

For marketing managers and CEOs, the GE brand story demonstrates how brand messaging must never lose site of the core business or businesses. The messaging must be delivered in a straightforward way, so that customers can quickly understand the value being delivered.

McDonalds: #9 on the Forbes most value brand list

With a product range that is served up in more than 110 countries, feeding millions of customers every day, McDonald’s branding success is undisputable. The key to the burger leader’s branding and marketing success is segmentation and experimentation. Whether it’s the introduction of an all-day breakfast, healthier menus and new ordering technologies, the fast food giant never sits still.

That said, it’s marketing and branding strategy is based on uniformity and consistency. In other words, no matter where in the world you are, you can always order a Big Mac. Likewise, whether you’re in a restaurant in Beijing, or an outlet in Perth, consumers will always face the same kind of atmosphere and experience. This means their expectations are generally fulfilled, because they know what they can expect from the restaurant.

Despite its geographic diversity the McDonalds brand is very consistent, with a lot of attention to detail to ensure its values are applied globally.

Canon – #84 on the Forbes most valuable brand list

Canon is a valuable example of a commoditised product business that was forced to change its focus to the customer experience.

We’ll focus on Canon’s camera rather than its print business. With the compact camera going the way of the Dodo Bird, and the digital SLR camera market heavily commoditised, Canon has been under significant price pressure – the same scenario many manufacturing businesses are facing.

The challenge therefore was to create a brand which transcends price. Canon did this by building a community of evangelists, which it achieved by refocusing their marketing on the consumer experience. In Australia, the focus shift was achieved through marketing and branding campaigns such as the ‘No one sees it like you’ and Canon exclusive customer content, such as the Canon Collective initiative.

Despite the proliferation of smartphones with perfectly serviceable cameras, Canon is still selling cameras. The durability of Canon in turn, demonstrates that if a brand puts customers at the centre of their marketing efforts rather than products, you can produce results even in heavily commoditised markets.