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Revealed: business superbrands 2011

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Jet-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Group claims the top spot in the list of business superbrands, published today.

Either Microsoft or Google has held the number one position since 2007, but they slipped this year to third and fourth position respectively.

Technology still dominates the list, with Blackberry smartphones climbing one spot to take second place and Apple, the only new entry in the Superbrand top 10, entering straight into the fifth position.

This year’s top ten business superbrands are:

1. Rolls-Royce Group

2. BlackBerry

3. Microsoft

4. Google

5. Apple

6. London Stock Exchange

7. PricewaterhouseCoopers

8. GlaxoSmithKline

9. Visa

10. Bosch

The full list can be viewed here.

The annual league table is compiled by a panel of experts at The Centre for Brand Analysis (TCBA), with input from over 2,000 professionals from across the UK. Brands are assessed on their quality, reliability and distinction.

But just how credible are the results? Freddie Baveystock, managing consultant at brand and digital agency Rufus Leonard, says that while the selection process behind Business Superbrands is robust enough, he challenges the ranking. “In what kind of business world can eBay be ranked higher than Barclays or Wickes trump Sir Robert McAlpine as the go-to construction brand? And since when can Office Angels be deemed a more essential resource than CapGemini or Black & Decker rate higher than Balfour Beatty?” he asks. “The definition of ‘business’ being applied is clearly a broad one. The same can be said of the judgment criteria – quality, reliability and distinction – which obviously favour brands with a strong consumer profile.

“Looking at the report, it feels like brands have moved on, while the way they are ranked has not,” adds Baveystock. “It would be more appropriate to judge today’s business brands by more dynamic criteria such as speed, flexibility and innovation. How responsive are they to changing market conditions? In what ways do they demonstrate an ability to adapt their brands and businesses to meet emerging needs and opportunities? Do they pioneer innovative practices and embrace new channels?

“Being able to evolve and adapt a brand over time is now paramount to success.  Looking down the Top 100, it’s names like BlackBerry, Apple, Visa, Virgin Atlantic, O2, Panasonic, Lloyds TSB and Xerox that do this best.”

Baveystock notes that one brand category is dismally under-represented in this year’s report – the media. “More often than not, it is access to information and insight that powers innovation and adaptation,” he says. “Yet the FT, The Economist and the BBC – all of which have made their content available through new channels such as the iPhone and iPad – are nowhere to be seen.”

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