Apple’s brand not core to its success

Interbrand published their list of the top 100 global brands for 2009 last week, Coca Cola maintaining its position at the top for the ninth year in a row. I thought it would be interesting to compare the brand values calculated by Interbrand with the equity values of the companies concerned as it would indicate those companies with the most to lose (and gain) through their PR and reputation management.

The results for some companies are surprising including the banks, JP Morgan and HBSC, and in particular Apple, who it seems is not very reliant on its brand with only 9% of its company valuation represented by its brand value.

Interbrand’s  methodology effectively values the extent to which a brand is able to generate financial benefits due to the superior demand created through the strength of the brand itself and not the underlying assets, expertise etc of the company.

Comparing this brand value with the company’s stock market value effectively gives an assessment of the extent to which the brand itself is the driver of the company’s performance.

The table below shows the top 50 brands in the Interbrand list sorted in descending order by those whose brands represent the highest proportion of their company valuation. (The position figure is their position in the Interbrand list).

Top of this list is the French company PPR who own the Gucci Group and Puma amongst others. These two brands alone are valued by Interbrand at $11.4bn compared to a stock market value today for PPR of $16.1bn (£11bn) i.e. 71% of the company valuation is accounted for by the brand value of these two brands. Another luxury brand that appears high in the list, with 53% of its value accounted for by its two biggest brands, is Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.  This doesn’t seem surprising given the importance of brand in establishing luxury items’ worth.

Bottom of the list are the banks JP Morgan and HBSC. Only 5% of their company valuations is accounted for by their brand values. However this is not a credit crunch effect as this figure has not changed much over the last two years. This seems a little strange to me on the face of it as it implies that the banking sector is much more of a commodity market despite the importance of trust and confidence in this sector.

But more surprising still is Apple. According to Interbrand only 9% ($15.4bn) of the company’s value ($165.7bn) is accounted for by its brand. This compares to 25% for Microsoft and 42% for Sony. This implies that Apple’s brand is not considered an important driver of value in the company and yet I would suspect that most communications and marketing people would perceive that the opposite was the case.

I wonder if the majority of the reason why Apple is valued at 32 times its earnings (as of 21/9/09) driven by high expectations of its ability to innovate and design new products now and into the future and not the Apple brand itself?

Anyone else have any theories?

Position in Survey Company Ticker

Brand value

Equity value
Brand value as % of equity value
41 Gucci/Puma (PPR) PP:PAR 11.4 16.1 71%
15 BMW BMWX:GER 21.7 32.3 67%
5 Nokia NOK 34.9 57.8 60%
48 Heinz HNZ 7.2 12.5 58%
34 Kelloggs K 10.4 18.7 56%
1 Coca Cola KO 68.7 124.6 55%
10 Disney DIS 28.5 52.9 54%
16 Louis Vuitton/Moet (LVMH) MC:PAR 24.9 47.3 53%
6 McDonalds MCD 32.3 62.2 52%
12 Mercedes Benz (Daimler AG) DAI 23.9 49.9 48%
26 Nike NKE 13.2 28.5 46%
29 Sony SNE 12.0 28.4 42%
2 IBM IBM 60.2 160.1 38%
22 American Express AXP 15.0 41.3 36%
42 Phillips PHG 8.1 23.4 35%
35 Dell DELL 10.3 32.6 32%
21 H&M HMB:STO 15.4 49.2 31%
49 Ford F 7.0 22.4 31%
45 Accenture ACN:NYQ 7.7 25.6 30%
18 Honda HMC 16.8 55.9 30%
40 Thomson Reuters TRI 8.4 28.3 30%
9 Intel INTC 30.6 109.5 28%
4 General Electric GE 47.8 175.3 27%
39 Nintendo 7974:TYO 9.2 33.9 27%
3 Microsoft MSFT 56.6 225.1 25%
8 Toyota TM 31.3 130.5 24%
46 Ebay EBAY 7.4 31.4 24%
11 HP HPQ 24.1 109.4 22%
36 Citibank C 10.3 48.3 21%
33 Canon CAJ 10.4 49.3 21%
19 Samsung A005930:KSC 17.5 85.1 21%
7 Google GOOG 32.0 155.6 21%
27 SAP SAPX 12.1 59.3 20%
17 Marlboro (Philip Morris) PM 19.0 93.2 20%
43 Amazon AMZN 7.9 39.0 20%
31 UPS UPS 11.6 58.4 20%
50 Zara (Inditex) ITX:MCE 6.8 36.5 19%
14 Cisco CSCO 22.0 135.5 16%
30 Budweiser (AB InBev) AHBIF 11.8 73.9 16%
13 Gillette/Duracell (Procter and Gamble) PG 26.4 167.3 16%
23 Pepsi PEP 13.7 93.3 15%
44 Loreal OR:PAR 7.7 57.2 13%
24 Oracle ORCL 13.7 108.4 13%
38 Goldman Sachs GS 9.3 93.7 10%
20 Apple AAPL 15.4 165.7 9%
47 Siemens SI 7.3 84.4 9%
25 Nescafe (Nestle) NESN:VTX 13.3 154.2 9%
37 JP Morgan JPM 9.6 176.8 5%
32 HSBC HCS 10.5 204.8 5%
28 IKEA 12.0
Total 945.3 3925.0 24%
IKEA figures not calculated as privately owned so no stock market valuation available
Equity valuations were as of 21st September 2009
Tickers refer to New York Stock Exchange except where stated
Where currencies have been translated the following rates to $1 were used:
Euro = 0.682
Yen = 92
Korean Won = 1,204
Canadian $ = 1.077
Swiss Franc = 1.04

Online PR is all about Community

Well the silly season is pretty much over and at RealWire we have been using this quiet time to go on holidays, get married (congratulations Hollie!) and put the finishing touches to our new animation.

The video is called “Online PR is all about Community” and tries to provide a simple analogy for people to bear in mind when approaching online PR. Here it is:

Online PR is all about Community from RealWire on Vimeo.

There are lots of white papers, reports, posts, articles etc giving instructions, guidance, facts and knowledge around this subject of course. Commoncraft for instance do a brilliant job with their videos, but these focus more on the specifics of the elements of the online world themselves – e.g. RSS, Twitter, Social Bookmarking etc.

We hadn’t really seen someone attempt to produce something that tried to distil things into a simple story that gets at the fundamentals and then produce it in a (hopefully) entertaining way. The analogy we use in the video isn’t new, in fact its as old as the hills, but perhaps it will help to serve as a reminder of what sits at the heart of good “people” relations.

So far we have had a great response from people all over the world with the video already clocking up almost 4,000 views in its first week and over 100 tweets. Thank you to everyone who has watched the video to date and been kind enough to take the time to provide their feedback either directly or indirectly. We really appreciate it.

The production of the video, and in particular the script development, focussed our minds on confirming that the way that we at RealWire do things fits this approach.  We have given an overview of how we think our approach to distribution strives to be consistent with the principles outlined here. We aren’t resting on our laurels though, we will make mistakes sometimes, but we will always be open to feedback and suggestions of how we can improve, so that we can play a valuable role in the online community.

Finally a big, big thank you to Owen and the team at Thumb Digital our partners in crime when it comes to making these videos. And a special thank you to Steve, the designer who has produced both of our videos, and has to put up with me in particular being very picky! :-)

Social Media News Releases achieve double the coverage of Traditional Press Releases


RealWire has been offering the Social Media News Release (SMNR) option to our clients for nearly two years now. In that time we have hosted and distributed over 200 SMNRs on behalf of a varied group of organisations including:

3i, Adobe, British Army, Cisco, Comic Relief, Cross Country Trains, Diageo, Durex, First Direct, Ford, HSBC, ITV, Macmillan Cancer Support, Nescafe, NSPCC, Peugeot, Sage, Skoda, Sony Ericsson, Symantec, Talk Talk, Toshiba, Twestival, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. Some are in a narrative style, some follow the original deconstructed format.

Our video about the SMNR (from our webitpr days) has had over 12,000 views and we are currently ranked top of for a search for “social media news release”. Even ahead of Mr Social Media Release himself, Todd Defren. (Of course we don’t manage to repeat the trick on, but the video doesn’t do badly :-) )

So it is on this basis we feel fairly well qualified to provide some analysis on whether Social Media News Releases actually achieve better results than “traditional” press releases.


We analysed 997 releases distributed by RealWire during the period December 2008 to May 2009 for which coverage tracking statistics had been gathered by our Proveit release evaluation service.

Of these 71 releases were Social Media News Releases.

The results are summarised below:

Total coverage includes coverage that is the republishing of the release in its entirety either by selective or non selective publishers.

It is worth noting that all of these results for both SMNRs and traditional releases compare favourably with analysis of competing distribution services suggesting that the combination of our clients, their releases and RealWire’s approach performs strongly for all types of release.

However the results above suggest that Social Media News Releases perform substantially better than traditional releases when it comes to generating editorial and blog coverage with, on average, all of the additional coverage being of this type.

So a big tick in the box for SMNRs then? All we have to do is produce all releases in this format and we will all achieve two or three times as much coverage?

Well not so fast. A simple regression analysis on the data suggests that a release just being an SMNR, as opposed to a traditional release, in itself only explains a small proportion of the variation in the performance of individual releases.

So the majority of the variation would seem to be due to other factors. There are any number of factors that could explain some degree of variation – the hook of the title, timing, number of interested parties etc. Significantly more detailed work would be needed to prove the impact of each.

But I would suggest that the most likely reason for the improvement in performance of SMNRs is that the additional investment needed to produce a SMNR means that clients are more likely to use them for the most interesting stories. It is this investment in quality that then pays dividends with the features of the SMNR allowing the user to enhance that storytelling and so produce the improved results.


Less stories. More creatively told. To the right people.

The first point may seem like a strange thing for a press release distribution company to say – “less stories”, doesn’t that mean less business? As I said earlier, the results of our own distribution actually indicate that releases we distribute for our clients are already of a relatively higher quality and/or are directed to more relevant people and hence our pickup stats compare very favourably to competing services.

However the analysis implies that the discipline of investing more in the telling of a story through a Social Media Release seems to lead senders to focus on the stories that generate the most interest editorially and from bloggers. Surely that is a good thing for all parties?

When 54% of press releases from the big wires apparently never get written about, wouldn’t focussing more on the half that are of interest be a better use of the PR industry’s resources?

Why all the fuss about Twitter?

I have just got back from a few days at the annual Communication Directors’ Forum. At the event I got to speak to many key communications professionals from some of the UK’s most well known brands. The common questions that I was asked were about how the online world was changing and why all the fuss about Twitter?

Apart from the obvious celebrity focus, Twitter’s success, in my view, is down to a number of factors, the three primary ones being:

– speed,
– permission;
– and relevance.

It is these three characteristics that I see as being key to the further development of online communications in the future.


When the Internet first appeared speed of communications was a key area everyone focussed on. We were all now “surfing the information superhighway”. No more relying on snail mail or faxes, a message could be sent by email or online messenger within minutes. With the advent of blogs and low cost publishing platforms this ability to communicate at speed was then increased in reach with individuals being able to tell their stories to a much wider audience, again within minutes.

Now Twitter has taken the reach of blogs and increased the speed to another level.  News can be written in the time it takes to write 140 characters and passed from person to person via “retweeting” in a matter of a couple of seconds. This means news travels at a much greater speed than even blogs can achieve.


In a “traditional” social networking environment, like Facebook for instance, there needs to be two sided permission. I have to want to be your friend and you have to want to be mine for communication to occur. So I have two choices – to be, or not to be, your friend.

In Twitter’s case if you start to follow me I have three choices. I can say no and block you. I can say yes and follow you back. Both basically the same options as with social networking. But I also have a third option. I can let you follow me, but not follow you back. This allows people who want to know more about a person and what they have to say to listen in without the person you are following having to follow you back. This partially explains the growth in celebrity tweeters. This gives huge amounts of flexibility in the nature of the relationships that participants in the Twitter community can enjoy.


This is crucial in any form of communication as it is only through being relevant to someone that you can ever achieve any form of influence.

The permission choices above allow participants to also have much greater control over the relevance of the information and relationships they have. If I decide that someone I have been following is irrelevant to me I can just stop following them. If I see that someone is talking about a topic that is relevant to me, e.g. a search in Twitter for my company name, I can choose to start following them and listen to what they say and finally I can potentially start a conversation with them about that topic if they want to talk back to me.

But again the other participants also have all of these choices so we are all able to decide who is relevant to us. It is this choice, our own personal relevance filter, which makes for a more efficient dialogue.

What do others think? What characteristic/s of Twitter do others think explain its adoption?

Why Online PR is like a dinner party

The recent popularity of shows such as Come Dine with Me, along with the recessionary drive to save money, has lead to a renaissance in the art of the dinner party. With my tongue only slightly in cheek it has often struck me that Online Public Relations is a lot like a dinner party. At RealWire we think good PR is governed by four main principles – permission, relevance, content and influence. So how do these apply to the art of the dinner party?


First of all you have to either be invited to someone else’s party or host one of your own. In practice this means knowing who is going to be interested in you, who you have things in common with and then finding and getting to know these people. Until you have done this you aren’t likely to get many invites and if you invite people to your own party they aren’t likely to turn up!


If you have decided to host a party you must ensure that the dishes you create for your guests take account of their culinary preferences e.g. vegetarians, nut allergies and religious factors. No matter how good the food, if it isn’t relevant to them they aren’t going to eat it and causing serious harm to your guests health or sensibilities isn’t likely to mean they will respond positively to your next invite.

The other key area where you need to consider relevance is in the conversations you have. Before you dive in with your latest achievement or talking all about your work or your kids find out about the person you are talking to. What are they interested in? Then you might find that there is something about you or something that you know about that they might value and so an interesting, and relevant, conversation ensues.


Whether you are hosting your own, or attending someone else’s party, the food you serve, and the conversations you have, need to also be both of sufficient quality, and interest, to provoke a positive reaction on the part of the guests. This means planning and creating fabulous dishes and/or coming prepared with stories that will engage the other guests’ attention. It’s no good inviting all these people on the promise of a gastronomic extravaganza and then serving cheese on toast.


If you have done all of the above then guests at parties you host should not only want to come to your next one, but are likely to tell all their friends about how great the evening was. And in the case of parties you attend the other guests will not only tell their friends how interesting you were, but they are also likely to attend any party you might host.

So follow these four principles, and not only will you be a great dinner party host and guest, but you might also find your PR improves :-)

(This post also appeared today in my Fresh Business Thinking Online PR newsletter)