Every so often I like to play around with some data. Call it data jazz… (that’s only semi-serious).

Anyway, yesterday I was looking at the Interbrand Top 100 brands, and was wondering how they have changed over time? I constantly hear factoids about how company lifecycles are getting shorter and the world is speeding up. But what about brands? Because, ultimately, it’s the brands we buy, not the companies.

So I trawled (for not very long) across the web and found the 2003 Top 100, and then compared them with the one from 2015. Here’s what I found:


So, to explain the graph… The blue are the number of brands from each of the particular sectors that appeared in 2003 but weren’t in the 2015 list. The red are the ones that are the ones that sustained both charts. And the amber are the ones that weren’t in 2003, but did make the list in 2015.

There were 35 changes over that 12 year period. Technology had the biggest churn, with brands like Nokia and Sun Microsystems disappearing but those like Facebook and Google being added to the list. But what surprised me most of all – look at the growth in Automotive. All of the brands that were there in 2003 are still in the list, and there’s been a stack of new ones added too.

You can find my very messy spreadsheet here.

3 thoughts on “The rise of automotive

  1. Hi Matt.
    Interesting stuff. But when you say that “we buy brands, not companies”, don’t we in the end buy products, not brands? Sure, some brands are strong enough that it feels as if their fans will buy anything they produce, but usually the fans and the buyers go pretty quickly when / if the quality of the product goes.
    I realise Interbrand focuses on brand value, and that their ratings effectively take as a given that the brands concerned continue to be supported by products of equivalent quality. But I’d expect the reason for the decline of many of the brands dropping out of the top 100 is not managing to keep a competitive quality product on offer. Thus, I guess, technology is almost bound to have a greater churn than most other sectors.
    Interesting as well to look at the sectors with little movement – due to barriers to entry, little disruptive change in the products, or just an area where consumers are more conservative? Any thoughts?

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on your first point, Derek. Take the Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, VW Polo and Audi A1. All the same car. Price points driven by the brand (certainly not by the differential cost of materials, despite what the manufacturers might want you to think!). Even in pure commodities, from ketchup to flour to petrol, lots of people buy on brand.

      The interesting bit about the churn is that most of the technology brands that dropped out (Nokia, Sun, Motorola, Ericsson) were more victims of acquisition and rebranding than of dropping away because of the actual brand value (whatever the heck that is…). The two tech brands who dropped out that still exist strongly as things, Dell & Nintendo, probably do better fit into the category of losing it product-wise. The *only* brand that died through bankruptcy was Kodak.

      The automotive rise I find particularly interesting because it’s such an old industry. What it probably reflects more than anything is how much money that old industry is investing to try to maintain relevance. What will be telling is if Tesla makes an appearance soon…

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