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The World's Most Significant Brands?

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A significant brand is a rare breed. Not many of them exist in this world, but when you meet one you soon know about it. Becoming one does not require luck, timing or large advertising budgets. Significant brands simply value their customers more than themselves, and they are willing to do the things that other brands don't do.

I didn’t actually create this list of "Significant Brands” to produce a ranking table, but to spark a debate. These brands are significant to me because of what they stand for, not how much money they have made. After all, isn’t that the real purpose of business… To not just make a profit, but to make a profit that has a purpose?

Significant brands are run by companies who's intentions lie beyond profits. They want to make profits with purpose.
Significant brands stand for something larger than themselves. They inspire and add value to the lives of everyone they touch.


So, these are my top 25 most #SignificantBrands. I've tried to include a few stories around why I think they are significant, and a couple of words from one of their founders or executives. I hope you like them. If you don't, even better... create your own list and post it on slideshare ~ because we don't have deep conversations about brand purpose often enough.

What are your most significant brands?

Published in: Marketing, Business
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The World's Most Significant Brands?

  1. The World’s Most Significant Brands 2015 Curated by @JeremyWaite #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS
  2. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS A significant brand is a rare breed. Not many of them exist in this world, but when you meet one you soon know about it. Becoming one does not require luck, timing or large advertising budgets. Significant brands simply value their customers more than themselves, and they are willing to do the things that other brands don't do. I didn’t actually create this list of "Significant Brands” to produce a ranking table, but to spark a debate. These brands are significant to me because of what they stand for, not how much money they have made. After all, isn’t that the real purpose of business… To not just make a profit, but to make a profit that has a purpose? •  Significant brands are run by companies who's intentions lie beyond profits. They want to make profits with purpose. •  Significant brands stand for something larger than themselves. They inspire and add value to the lives of everyone they touch. So, these are my top 25 most #SignificantBrands. What are yours? @JeremyWaite “Make it simple. But significant”. Don Draper
  3. #1 #11 #16 #21 #7 #12 #17 #22 #8 #13 #18 #23 #9 #14 #19 #24 #10 #15 #20 #25 #2 #3 #5#4 #6 #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @JEREMYWAITE
  4. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @TESLAMOTORS give away their patents to encourage competition and help make energy efficient products affordable for everyone. •  The last time the auto industry was disrupted this radically was when Henry Ford refused to give people “faster horses”. •  Tesla is already worth more than Fiat. •  Investing $5Bn in a battery factory to make electric batteries more cost-effective. •  Only 6 parts on a Model S need regular replacement (4 wheels + 2 wiper blades). #1
  5. Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product. “ ”@ElonMusk ~ CEO $TSLA & SpaceX
  6. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @TOMS plan to launch a new product each year, and with each product they sell, people in the community who made them will benefit through their One for One giving model. •  $625m Company valuation. •  Network of 100 giving partners. •  35m shoes given to children in need. •  Helped restore sight to 300,000 people. •  100,000 weeks of safe water secured. •  Safe birth kits and medical staff deployed in regions where birth conditions are difficult and mothers get little assistance. #2
  7. If you organise your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger. Something that matters. “ ”@BlakeMycoskie ~ @TOMS Chief Shoe Giver
  8. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @FORD made “the greatest business decision of all-time” by doubling the wages of every employee, increasing production, lowering costs and making cars affordable for everyone. •  Ford’s mission was to increase the financial and moral status of employees, believing “one’s own employees ought to be one’s best customers”. •  Model T price dropped from $825 to $260. •  By 1924 50% of world’s car were Ford. •  Increase in car ownership lead to the explosion of roadside billboard advertising. #3
  9. Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. “ ”Henry Ford ~ Founder of @Ford Motor Co.
  10. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @FACEBOOK created Internet.org to connect the 2/3 of the world who are not on-line, enabling farmers to make more money, families to learn about healthcare and children to receive education. #4 •  Students who couldn’t afford books are now graduating school by learning from Wikipedia. •  Poultry farmers with Facebook pages are now selling 5X more produce. •  Expectant mothers learning healthcare information about how to raise their child. •  HIV awareness apps are being created to educate local communities.
  11. We don't build services to make money, we make money to build better products. “ ”Mark Zuckerberg ~ $FB CEO and Co-Founder
  12. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @SALESFORCE launched the 1:1:1 model when they founded in 1999, giving away 1% of their revenue, 1% of their equity (in free products to non-profits) and volunteering 1% of each employees time. •  1:1:1 model has been adopted by Google. •  Given away over $85m in grants •  Employees have donated almost 1 billion hours of their time supporting non-profits. •  25,000+ charities and non-profits use Salesforce technology for free. •  Fastest growing enterprise software co. •  Voted “World’s Most innovative Company”. #5
  13. We don’t need a new version we need a new vision. “ ”Marc @Benioff ~ $CRM Co-Founder & CEO.
  14. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @UNILEVER aims to improve the lives of 2 billion people each day through social and environmental acts of kindness. #6 •  €48.436 billion turnover •  60% of girls drop out of social or physical events due to a lack the body confidence. •  20% of young girls have been on a diet. •  Unilever are now delivering self-esteem education to millions of 10-14 year old girls. •  215m “Acts of Sunlight” already delivered. •  Turning the most popular products into “Purpose Driven Brands”.
  15. Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it; Now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it. “ ”Marc Mathieu ~ @Unilever SVP Marketing
  16. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS APPLE don’t want to debate climate change they want to stop it altogether. #7 •  The world’s most valuable brand. ($247Bn) •  100% of US operations and data centres use renewable energy (and 87% of global ops). •  Partnered with The Conservation Fund to create forests they use for packaging •  Building a solar farm in China to offset energy used by offices and retail stores. •  New Apple devices use 59% less energy. •  Mission “To leave the world better than we found it”.
  17. Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday. “ ”Steve Jobs ~ Co-Founder $APPL
  18. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @PATAGONIA give away 10% of their $600m revenue or 1% profits to environmental causes. They launched 1% for the planet which has so far raised $100m though its network of 1,200 members. •  2,000 employees but no private offices. •  Only 100% organic cotton since 1996. •  CSR program is not seen as philanthropy or charity, but “the cost of doing business”. •  First company in California to be a benefit corporation recognising that employees and the environment are as important as stakeholders. #8
  19. Businesses need profits to survive. The less we make, the less we will have to give away, and the less other companies will think we have a mission that is worth imitating. “ ”Yvon Chouinard ~ @Patagonia Founder
  20. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @GOOGLE mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. #9 •  $66Bn Revenue (90% from ad sales). •  Google acquires around 3 companies each month. •  All 55,419 employees can spend 20% of their time on projects to “use their powers for good, not evil.” •  Google takes on moonshots projects that could change the world for millions of people. •  Project Loon aims to connect the entire world. •  2m searches per second. •  15% daily searches have never been searched before.
  21. If you’re changing the world, you’re doing important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning. If we were motivated by money, we’d have sold the company a long time ago. “ ”Larry Page ~ $GOOG Co-Founder
  22. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @WHOLEFOODS measure success through by customer satisfaction, return on capital investment and improvement in the environment as well as the local community. •  $12.9 Billion revenue. •  5% after-tax profits donated to non-profits. •  To encourage transparency and trust, all employee salaries are openly published. •  Self-directed teams meet regularly to discuss issues, solve problems and appreciate each other's contributions. •  Almost all promotional hires are internal. #10
  23. Great companies have great purposes. “ ”John Mackey ~ @Wholefoods Co-Founder
  24. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @WALMART believe if they can lower the cost of living for everyone, they’ll give the world an opportunity to save and have a better life. #11 •  $482.2 billion revenue. •  11,450 stores in 27 countries. •  2.2m employees and partners globally. •  $1.4 billion gifted to community projects. •  Protect 1 acre of wildlife habitat for every acre developed for new stores and offices. •  $2 billion committed to help fight hunger. •  Employees volunteer 1.5m+ hours per year.
  25. Capital isn’t scarce. Vision is. “ ”Sam Walton ~ $WMT Founder
  26. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @PHILIPS is committed to building healthcare technology platforms that will significantly improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2025. #12 •  €21.39 Billion revenue from 60 countries. •  Cardiology equipment, monitoring and diagnostic imaging systems supplied to most of the world’s hospitals. •  Vision to keep people out of hospital for as long as possible via predictive health care. •  8% sales invested in healthcare R&D. •  HealthSuite eco-system for app developers is transforming heathcare delivery.
  27. Always ask oneself: Couldn’t this be different? Couldn’t this be better? I have found fantasy to be one of the key factors to success in a persons life. “ ”Anton Philips ~ @Philips Co-Founder
  28. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @GENERALELECTRIC’s mission is to invent the next industrial era, to build, move, power and cure the world. (Not necessarily in that order). •  Founder Thomas Edison promised “One minor invention every 10 days and a big thing every 6 months”. •  GE now own 67,500 patents. •  53-acre leadership facility built by to inspire leaders to create profits with purpose. •  GE scientists have won 2 Nobel prizes. •  World’s 6th most valuable brand $146 Bn. #13
  29. If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them. “ ”Jack Welch ~ $GE CEO (1981-2001)
  30. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @VOLVO are on a mission to be the world’s safest brand. They have a vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured by one of their cars by the end of 2017. #14 •  Volvo invented the seatbelt 50 years ago which it deliberately did not patent. •  First production car to have a laminated windscreen was the Volvo PV444 in 1947. •  Side Impact Protection System in the 1990s. •  Pioneered the catalytic converter in 1976. •  450 full-scale crash tests per year. •  Accident Research Team have analysed more than 40,000 accidents since 1970.
  31. Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make, therefore, is and must remain – safety. “ ”Gustaf Larson, Co-Founder Volvo
  32. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @IBM built the Watson super- computer to save lives and help healthcare professionals make more accurate diagnoses faster. It looks likely Watson may even find the cure for cancer. #15 •  In order to "learn" to think like a human, Watson was pre-programmed with NY Times archive, Wikipedia, IMDB, the Bible and 10m of the most read internet articles. •  Watson for Oncology draws from over 290 medical journals, 200 textbooks, and 12 million pages of text.  •  90% of medical staff trust Watson’s advice on the best drugs to prescribe. 
  33. Corporations prosper only to the extent that they satisfy human needs. Profit is only the scoring system. The end is better living for us all. “ ”Thomas Watson Jr. ~ Ex-President $IBM
  34. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @VIRGIN Unite shines a spotlight on unacceptable issues, incubates disruptive collaborations and empowers entrepreneurs to change business for good. #16 •  Mission to leverage the strength of the Branson family, 53m customers, 20m social media followers and 65,000 Virgin staff, to take action around important issues. •  100% overheads covered by Virgin Group. •  Galactic Unite reaches over 45K students to inspire STEM education. •  Clinics in South Africa have extended life expectancy by 5 years.
  35. Do good, have fun and the money will follow. “ ”@RichardBranson ~ Founder & CEO @Virgin
  36. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @DONORCHOOSE have re- invented the way that charitable d o n a t i o n s a r e g i v e n a n d received. #17 •  Supported by 1,722,431 givers. •  $327,568,951 raised for educational supplies. •  582,350 projects funded, •  235,397 teachers supported. •  14,648,513 school children reached. •  62,027 schools supported. •  64% of all US public schools have a project posted by one of their teachers. •  69% of all projects are fully funded.
  37. If you give $1 you’re a philanthropist. “ ”@CharlesBest ~ Founder of @DonorsChoose
  38. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @JCBmachines have become famous for their immediate disaster response. They donate d i g g e r s a n d c o n s t r u c t i o n equipment to global crises, regardless of the cost. #18 •  $4.4Bn revenue. •  All 11,000 employees sign a “customer charter”. •  Europe’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment with network of 750 global dealers. •  $500K diggers sent to help re-building after Philippines typhoon disaster in 2013. •  $750K tractors cleaned up after 2014 UK floods. •  $1m diggers and generators sent to Nepal earthquake areas in 2015.
  39. A brand with nothing behind it is a pretty hollow thing. “ ”Sir Anthony Bamford ~ @JCBMachines CEO
  40. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS CARNEGIE STEEL was one of the w o r l d ’ s m o s t s u c c e s s f u l businesses, and is still the model t h a t m o s t c o r p o r a t e a n d philanthropic giving is based upon. #19 •  Founder Andrew Carnegie built a fortune worth over $300 Billion. •  90% of all assets were donated to foundations and charitable trusts. •  Built 2,500 libraries. •  Published “The Gospel of Wealth” in 1889 calling on the rich to use their wealth to improve society and stimulate a culture of philanthropy amongst corporations.
  41. Strong men know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater purpose. “ ”Andrew Carnegie ~ Founder Carnegie Steel
  42. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @GSK are a global healthcare company on a mission to help people do more, feel better and live longer, by educating a new generation of scientists. #20 •  $23 Billion turnover from 150 countries. •  97,921 employees committed to finding insights that combat the world’s greatest challenges through Pharmaceuticals, and Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare. •  UK needs 1.3m scientists and engineers by 2020 educated in STEM subjects. •  GSK ranks #1 in contributions towards UK education in a bid to create more scientists.
  43. Science is fundamental to understanding the world around us, and drives our discovery of innovative new medicines that bring benefit to millions of people around the world.   “ ”Stephen Mayhew ~ GSK Head of R&D
  44. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @LEVIS was not founded with the intention of becoming one of the world’s largest fashion brands, but a s a m e a n s t o i n v e s t i n o r p h a n a g e s a n d p r o v i d e university scholarships. #21 •  Founded in 1853 during Californian gold rush. •  Jeans were born when Levis made trousers from unsold tent canvas for gold prospectors. •  Horse saddle rivets were added and patented. •  Profits helped to to sponsor an orphanage, fund for a new railway branch line (making travel in San Francisco accessible to everyone), and award 28 grants at the University of Berkley.
  45. We believe that you make your mark in the world not just by what you do, but also how you do it. “ ”Levi Strauss ~ Founder @Levis
  46. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @NIKE are renowned for creating equipment that helps athletes maximise their performance, but t h e y a r e u s i n g t h a t s a m e philosophy to empower girls in third world countries. #22 •  250 million adolescent girls living in poverty •  Every 3 minutes, 81 girls will become child brides, 96 girls will give birth and 2 of those girls will likely die from complications.. •  India loses $383 billion in potential lifetime income for every 4m new adolescent mothers every year. •  Nike Girl Project now gives grants to 100+ organizations in more than 80 countries.
  47. We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.   “ ”Phil Knight ~ Co-Founder @Nike
  48. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @DISNEY are one of the world’s most valuable brands, not just because of their entertainment products, but because their foundation is obsessed with supporting local communities. #23 •  Disney’s Outreach program provides thousands of “voluntEARS” in 200 cities in 24 countries. •  Almost 1m hours donated by employees each year, impacting 4m kids and families. •  $370m given in grants to community projects. •  100% Disney advertising complies with positive health and nutrition messages. •  Over 23m books donated to schools.
  49. I’ve heard there’s going to be a recession. I’ve decided not to participate. “ ”Walt Disney ~ Founder @Disney
  50. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @TED believe that the power of ideas, when communicated well, can change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.   #24 •  Founded in 1984 as a conference to share ideas. (The first conference featured the CD). •  TED is a non-profit with 100% money raised going back into the community, making TED talks freely available to anyone. •  1,900 TED talks (many in over 100 languages). •  30,000+ TEDx talks from 130 countries. •  1m people watch a TED talk every day. •  90 staff in New York and Vancouver.
  51. You need to be sure that the people your product is targeting are able to ‘get it’ very quickly. If you can’t define your brand in three to eight words, you’re doomed.   “ ”Chris Anderson ~ @TED Curator
  52. #SIGNIFICANTBRANDS @TWITTER has revolutionised the way that the world c o m m u n i c a t e s n e w s , information and real-time events (ever since Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River). #25 •  Twitter turned an idea on a playground slide into a company that is today worth over $31 billion. •  Around 6,375 tweets sent every second. •  The official twitter account of @Sweden is managed by a random citizen each week. •  Twitter is a “news and information” network not a “social” network. •  1 day of twitter posts would fill a 10m page book. •  Only 10% world’s internet users are on twitter.
  53. First mover advantages are overrated. MySpace was a first mover. It’s better to have an idea best than to have it first. “ ”@Jack Dorsey ~ Co-Founder @Twitter $TWTR
  54. Businesses need profits to survive. The less we make, the less we will have to give away, and the less other companies will think we have a mission that is worth imitating. Yvon Chouinard ~ @Patagonia Founder METHODOLOGY? These rankings are flawed. But that’s the whole point. All rankings are flawed to one degree or another where opinion is concerned. What makes a significant brand to one person, may be completely irrelevant to the next. So no matter how scientific my methodology might be, or how statistically accurate any ranking calculations are measured and weighted, they will always be subjective. This is because measuring “significance” and brand value can not simply be measured by ROI or economic value. This is just a list of brands that are significant to me. My definition of a significant brand is one that has a purpose beyond profits, and one that stands for something greater than itself. When you consider that all brands are intangible by their nature, measuring any brand value is not something that can ever be calculated accurately (brand agencies such as Interbrand have been trying for years). It’s not like I didn’t try. I actually tried to score the brands originally, measuring positive share-of-voice from across the social web, in regard to the keywords that I believed were associated with #significantbrands such as: “csr OR sustainability OR mission OR purpose OR cause OR foundation OR charity OR giving OR philanthropy OR happiness OR customer satisfaction” But that didn’t work. It was never going to really ~ because trying to hide behind any kind of methodology for a ranking like this would be hopeless. It’s just my opinion. These are a collection of cool brands that I feel some kind of emotional attachment to, because of what I think that they stand for. Nothing more. Nothing less. The point of these rankings therefore, is not to look for any methodology or scientific analysis, but to encourage us to have more conversations about the difference between successful and significant brands. Hopefully these rankings will spark the kind of conversations that we don’t have often enough. It’s not enough to just make a profit anymore…
  55. Buy #SignificantBrands the book via @JeremyWaite <<100% Profits to Code.org>> “What you stand for is more important than what you sell”.

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