General March 5, 2015 | 0 Comment

Last year, I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Expert Panel for Business Superbrands 2015. It was a great experience and what I found particularly interesting was looking at the ratings after they were announced and thinking to myself, ‘what do the top ten brands (see below) have in common?’

1. British Airways
2. Apple
3. Virgin Atlantic
4. Microsoft
5. Visa
6. MasterCard
7. Google
8. FedEx
9. IBM
10. Samsung

Undoubtedly, they are all household names and display quality, reliability and distinction in their fields in abundance – the key judging criteria. But, what other common characteristics do they share and what can SMEs learn from them?

Well, putting this into a short blog is a pretty difficult undertaking as there are so many lessons that business owners can learn from big business. One thing that did shine through was that each company is not just a leader in its field; it is also a thought leader. There is a huge difference.

Being a thought leader can be difficult in a noisy, multi-channel world. But each company has achieved this with aplomb – when you think of Google, you think of cutting edge tech – BA – excellence customer service, etc. Each Business Superbrand has carved a position in its industry by having a great business model and promoting this externally.

This is what great PR does. It takes your business’ messages and promotes them to the right audience. Of course, I am not going to say that good PR is the sole reason for these businesses successes. But, good PR can help turn a brand into a Superbrand.

Most of these companies were started in the private sector (except BA – winner of both the Consumer and Business categories) and had to cut through the messages of their competition. Microsoft is a prime example of this – Acorn computers was swallowed up by Apple, Amstrad still exists today but its revenues do not touch that of Microsoft’s. Bill Gates was a key figure in taking the Microsoft brand to market, and every business’ leader should have the same passion and expertise, and be willing to communicate this externally.

If there is one thing that Superbrands can teach us it is this: A business or its brand is only as strong as its leadership and it should be able to promote this to every audience, be that investors, customers, business partners or employees, in a suitable way. Those that do may just be featured on next year’s list!

@SusannaSimpson, MD & Founder, Limelight

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