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Levick Daily. Thoughts. Perspectives. Insights.

Corporate & Reputation

Handicapping the Technology Brand Wars

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By James Gregory, founder and CEO of CoreBrand

It is no secret that competition among the consumer tech industry has never been greater as companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung battle it out (literally) in an ongoing technology turf war (i.e., Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. – the beginning of a series of ongoing lawsuits between the two companies regarding the design of smartphones and tablet computers). The rise of mobile computing has only built upon the existing tension, and, as of now, we see no signs that this trend will be slowing anytime soon.

Clearly the technology battle lines are drawn. But now the question is this: Who has the brand momentum going into this confrontation? CoreBrand tracks these companies in a continuous research study of business decision makers called the Corporate Branding Index®. This Index provides insights into the strengths and vulnerabilities of corporate brands with two measurements: 1) Familiarity: A weighted percentage of survey respondents who are familiar with the brand being evaluated; and 2) Favorability: A combined score of overall reputation, perception of management, and investment potential.

What is obvious from our research is that these companies are all nearly universally recognized. The Familiarity enjoyed by Microsoft, Google, and Apple are all in the 90s on a 100-point scale. Drilling down, one will notice that only Microsoft has not grown in Familiarity, while all the competitors have grown significantly with both Samsung and Amazon having grown the most over the past five years. Growing Familiarity at these heights is very difficult to do and has a diminishing return for the effort. However, holding onto the Familiarity you have achieved is important for managing your brand while keeping your competitors at bay. Clearly Microsoft is more vulnerable than it was just five years ago and has more competitors elbowing them for competitive awareness. 

Microsoft’s competitors are gaining ground.

  Familiarity (1-100) 2008 Familiarity (1-100) 2012
Microsoft 92.9 92.1
Apple 87.0 91.1
Google 84.4 90.3
Samsung 77.6 83.6
Amazon 63.6 71.9

Source: CoreBrand’s Corporate Branding Index®

While Familiarity is achievable through advertising, public relations and other forms of communications, Favorability requires a higher hurdle to achieve growth. Favorability is more about the alignment of the business process, the culture and behavior, and customer service to achieve improvement. Microsoft has improved two-points in five years, but has lost its top ranking to Apple. Google grew nearly ten points and Amazon also grew. Samsung is the only company that remained flat.

In five years Apple has unseated Microsoft as number one in Favorability.

2008 Favorability (1-100) 2012 Favorability (1-100)
Microsoft 73.1 Apple 75.6
Samsung 72.3 Microsoft 75.1
Apple 69.1 Samsung 72.0
Amazon 61.8 Google 70.0
Google 60.2 Amazon 65.2

Source: CoreBrand’s Corporate Branding Index®

Clearly the top contenders in the technology brand war are Apple and Google. They have what we call “momentum” and that gives them a strategic advantage over the competition.

  Five-Year Growth Familiarity Five-Year Growth Favorability
Apple + 4.1 + 6.5
Google + 5.9 + 9.8

Source: CoreBrand’s Corporate Branding Index®

Who will win in the end? Apple has the strategic high ground with the top spot and a 5.6-point advantage in Favorability and a slight advantage in Familiarity. Google has the advantage of growing faster in both Familiarity and Favorability. 2013 will be a very interesting year!

Methodology – CoreBrand measures Familiarity and Favorability of 1,000 corporate brands across 54 industries in the US. CoreBrand fields continuous quantitative research among a business audience – director level and above at the top 20% of corporations. This research has been continuously conducted with 10,000 telephone surveys completed  per year since 1996. In addition to a weighted Familiarity score there are three attributes measured: Overall Reputation; Perception of Management; Investment Potential. These three attributes are rolled into the Favorability score. All measures are reported on a 100-point scale. For more information please contact the author: jgregory@corebrand.com

About the Author

James Gregory is the founder and CEO of CoreBrand (http://www.corebrand.com/), a global brand strategy, communications and design firm. He helps clients develop strategies to improve their corporate brands and bottom-line performance. James is credited with developing pioneering and innovative tools for measuring the power of brands and their impact on a corporation's financial performance. He has written four acclaimed books on creating value with brands: Marketing Corporate Image, Leveraging the Corporate Brand, Branding Across Borders, and his most recent work, The Best of Branding. For more information, James can be reached directly at (212) 329-3055 or JGregory@corebrand.com.

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