According to Millward Brown Optimor, its BrandZ Strong Brands Portfolio -- a group of the top 100 most valuable global brands -- has outpaced the S&P 500. The brand and financial services consultancy says the BrandZ portfolio has gained 36.4% since April 2009 (when the holdings were last reported), compared with the S&P's increase of 31.6% during that same period.
"What it shows is that strong brands are a source of competitive advantage for a company," Ove Haxthausen, a partner at Millward Brown Optimor, tells Marketing Daily. "Brands matter because they can and do add value for shareholders."
They even make a difference over the long term. Tracking back to April 2006, the BrandZ portfolio is now worth 30.1% more than the S&P 500, according to the company. (The Strong Brands Index is up 15.3%, while the S&P 500 from the same period is down 14.8%.)
Millward Brown Optimor's index is helped by the inclusion of well-known companies in every industry, particularly those that have been dominating headlines like Google, Microsoft and Apple. That only underscores the importance of brand as it applies to financial performance.
"Some of the strongest performers -- Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon -- have been having interesting things going on," Haxthausen says, alluding to highly publicized new product introduction and the shaping of future media. "Their brands have allowed them to innovate. [But] innovation by itself is not enough. You have to have a relationship with customers that can help those innovations be successful."
In the same way, brands from the troubled financial services sector are also benefitting from a relationship with consumers, he says. "The ones that have a brand, and a relationship with customers, are doing well because the brand allows them to recover more quickly," Haxthausen says.