Emily Tan
Jun 6, 2016

Hot and cold: 2016's rising and falling brands

Brands are continually trading places. We examine possible factors behind some major moves up and down the 2016 league table

Hot and cold: 2016's rising and falling brands

Brands are continually trading places. We examine possible factors behind some major moves up and down the 2016 league table.

Intel +25 (89)

For an essentially B2B firm, Intel is doing stellar work at branding itself directly with consumers, and its debut into the top 100 underscores this. The brand is renowned for its collaborative campaigns with computer manufacturing brands and even, on a notable occasion, with Starwood’s W Hotels. Its signature four-note jingle has even been named the world’s second-most addictive sound (after a baby’s giggle) in a 2010 study by Buyology and Elias Arts. 

Intel’s rise up the Top 1000 Brands league table has been steady. Last year, it jumped 27 spots to 113. Its brand is strongest in China (55), followed by Vietnam (112) and South Korea (123). Its rank, however, falls out of the top 200 in Singapore (271), Australia (221) and Malaysia (215). 

Despite its legacy of hardware manufacturing, Intel’s brand is most strongly perceived in the consumer software category where it ranks at 4 across Asia-Pacific. This could be due to the processing chip’s connection to the computer’s ability to run software. 


Ralph Lauren +14 (92)

Despite slashing its full-year 2015 outlook to a decline of 3 per cent, the luxury brand, most identified by its polo shirts, has edged its way into this year’s top 100. Sales performance aside, the brand has been making substantial investments following a major restructure. In September last year, founder and namesake Ralph Lauren resigned from the chief executive position and appointed Old Navy change agent Stefan Larsson. Larsson has announced an intent to bring Asia’s share of the brand’s revenues up from 12 per cent to 30 per cent, and his investments may be driving the brand’s rise. 

In the region, Ralph Lauren brand is the strongest in Japan (54), Australia (78) and the Philippines (90). Its perception is the poorest in Thailand (289), Vietnam (276) and Taiwan (233). In China, a target market for the brand’s expansion plans, Ralph Lauren ranks at 173. 


Instagram +91 (173)

The social mobile platform’s catapult up the Top 1000 ladder is attributable to both its popularity in key markets and the investments that parent-company Facebook has been making in the region. Instagram first appeared on the Top 1000 in 2014 at 487, jumping to 264 last year. In September 2015, Instagram rolled out its advertising platform with Air New Zealand, P&G, Adidas and Sony among its first clients. 

Instagram does not provide regional figures but the Facebook-owned platform reports that, of its 400 million users, 22 million reside in Indonesia, 12 million in Japan and 6 million in Korea. In September last year, Instagram disclosed that among its newest 100 million users, more than half lived in Europe and Asia, with the highest growth coming from Brazil, Japan and Indonesia. It has been reported that its user-numbers have doubled in Japan and Indonesia over the past year. Its strongest markets on our brand ranking are Hong Kong (132), Australia (149) and Malaysia (161). 


Blackberry -702 (968)
HTC -378 (509)
Nokia -230 (282)

That these three brands remain in the Top 1000 at all is perhaps proof of the lasting effect of branding, which has sustained even after the business itself has declined. 

In 2007, Nokia was the second-most highly ranked brand on the Top 1000 league table, and it was in the top 100 at 52 just last year. 

Blackberry, a company that used to be worth more than US$100 billion in 2007, barely makes it on to the list today. As further proof of the the decline of these two brands, WhatsApp has just announced that it plans to drop support for Blackberry and Nokia devices. 

HTC, however, fights on and may yet have a chance despite an expensive but ultimately ineffective global campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr in the past year. In April 2016, the brand launched the HTC 10, a flagship phone on which the ailing company’s hopes are pinned. 


Lenovo -37 (90)

The Chinese PC manufacturer’s brand was badly singed when it mishandled the discovery of preloaded malware, Superfish, on its computers. The adware, which Lenovo was paid to pre-install, was found to tamper with the computer’s security, allowing hackers to view browser traffic. When confronted with this fact, Lenovo first tried to deny the problem, and it was only under pressure that it took steps to address the issue. By that time, however, its reputation was in tatters. In August last year, the firm announced that 3,200 job cuts due to “severe challenges”. This announcement followed the financial discloser of a 51-per cent drop in year-on-year quarterly profits. 

Lenovo’s efforts to offset the steady decline in PC sales with the acquisition of failing mobile brand Motorola has also yet to pay off. In 2016, Motorola’s chief operating officer Rick Osterloch told Cnet that the brand would be phased out in favour of ‘Moto by Lenovo’—a move that may help the parent brand grow in the smartphone market as the PC market wanes. 


Milo -21 (93)

The sudden drop by the Nestlé-owned brand is surprising as it follows its meteoric 143-place-rise last year. Reasons for the chocolate-malt instant beverage’s fall from grace remain unclear, but part of it could potentially be attributed to the backlash the brand faced in New Zealand over the launch of a new formula. The brand’s new “healthier” recipe was condemned by loyalists as “disgusting”. The social media storm carried over to Australia and over to Milo-loyal Southeast Asia.  The reformulation might have been in response to consumer reports outing Milo’s high sugar content. However, despite its attempts at a more nutritious formulation—possibly to tie in more strongly with its wellness branding—Milo’s recognition as a sports drink region-wide dropped from 5 last year to 16 this year.  


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