The value of a brand depends almost entirely on how you look at it. Campaign Asia-Pacific has published its list of Asia’s Top 1,000 Brands 2011. Leading the pack is Sony, followed by Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Canon. This is not about Asian brands but top brands in Asia. So the global big boys do get a look in. Apple is No. 6, HP No. 7, and Google No. 8. Coca-Cola is at an unlucky 13. In India, the ranking is Sony, Samsung and LG with Amul checking in at No. 5 and Kingfisher at No 7.
More recently, Brand Finance has come out with its Global 500 list . Look at just the Indian brands. Amul is nowhere. Nor is Kingfisher. By Brand Finance’s method of calculation, Kingfisher would have negative equity.
Take a third survey: TLG GlobeScan’s first-ever emerging market thought leaders survey. Infosys leads the India ranking for 2011. The others (in order) are: the Tata Group, Google India, Maruti-Suzuki, Larsen & Toubro, Nokia, State Bank of India, Facebook, Hindustan-Unilever, and the Mahindra Group. Based on this and other surveys, GlobeScan warns:
nWestern brands need to watch out. Self-confident Indians place seven local champions in their Top 10. (The UK index had just four indigenous British brands.)
nIndex leaders have successfully penetrated Western markets. Infosys (No 1) and Tata (No 2) are both true global corporations, with significant investments in the US and the UK.
nTop-rated brands exploit high value sectors previously dominated by the West. “Infosys develops 3D phone screens.” (Infosys seems to have a different sort of an image problem. The Brand Finance study puts it under the Consumer Electronics category.) Tata makes Land Rovers.
nIndians value engineering and construction. In India, civil engineering giant Larsen & Toubro comes No 5. By contrast, the US and the UK are dominated by tech and consumer brands.
nLocal knowledge makes the difference. Western firms that succeed (Google, Nokia and Facebook) are those that adapt their models to local conditions, or ones that form JVs with locals in the driving seat (Suzuki, Unilever). GlobeScan seems to be illiterate about JVs too.
This profusion of brands and different ratings in different surveys causes a great deal of confusion when you need to choose an employer. The large number of surveys on “Best Employer” or “Great Place to Work for” don’t help either. Each has its own methodology and the net effect is that the surveys cancel each other out leaving you with nothing.
Some indicators could be misleading. A company may give you a high salary and lavish perks. But is it better than one that spends money on training instead? The latter gives you a brighter future. But no best place to work for survey ever captures what you will do after you exit your current employer.
Most surveys — even the ones that concentrate on “work” — measure corporate brands, not employer brands. This is still a nascent area in India.
The real necessity will come when you have a shrinking talent pool. That has not yet been the case in India, regardless of what people might moan about unemployable jobseekers.
Mumbai-based HR consultant D. Singh suggests that you follow the alumni of a company and analyse their success. For instance, many of corporate India’s CEOs have come from companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Citibank, ICICI and TCS. These organisations should score high on employer branding. On the other hand, a paper by the Society for Human Resource Management titled Employer Brand in India: A Strategic HR Tool is categorical that “Employer brands are at least as much about retention and engagement as they are about recruitment”.
Finally, take a look at the Randstad Award 2011 for the Best Employer Brand in India (described as the Most Attractive Employer). The winners in their categories are: Microsoft, Larsen & Toubro, Volkswagen, Ernst & Young, ONGC, SAIL, and the Taj Group. There are half-a-hundred questions here and no answers.
The US is the
6. Bank of America
7. General Electric
9. Wells Fargo
The top Indian brands 2011 (2010)
Tata 50 (65)
Reliance 133 (108)
SBI 171 (187)
Indian Oil 234 (NA)
Bharti Airtel 284 (NA)
Bharat Petroleum 348 (306)
Infosys 381 (424)
ICICI 444 (440)
Wipro 476 (NA)
NA -- not available
(not in top 500 in 2010)
Source: Brand Finance Global 500