FutureBrand Index 2022: B2B companies with solid purpose and sustainability approach are winning

Eighth annual edition of the FutureBrand Index notes how perceptions of brands are changing off the back of the pandemic

Rich Curtis and Victoria Berry, FutureBrand
Rich Curtis and Victoria Berry, FutureBrand

B2B companies are continuing their march to the top of the FutureBrand Index’s brand perceptions list thanks to their emphasis on green energy and sustainable solutions.

According to the eighth edition of the FutureBrand Index, an annual perception study of PwC’s Top 100 companies, extensive changes in the perception of global companies have occurred almost three years after the start of the pandemic. Notably, B2B companies, and those particularly those in the East, who are focused on innovation around green energy and sustainable solutions have been gaining ground in the rankings. FutureBrand attributed the result to climate change and finite resources now being seen as the fastest-growing threat to business success.

Leading the index was clean energy giant, NextEra, which also gained a top five spot last year, followed by Reliance Industries and electric battery innovator, CATL.

Also regaining a top five position this year was Meta Platforms, which FutureBrand said experienced a significant boost in perception following a rebrand in late 2021. By contrast, Apple fell out of the top five for the first time since the research began.

FutureBrand’s latest report also revealed a direct reversal of some of last year’s shifts. For example, Walmart (39th) and McDonald’s (40th) were shown to have bounced back up the ranking, as predicted in the 2021 report, while Amazon (31st) and LVMH (47th) dipped back.

“This latest edition of the FutureBrand Index highlights how the strongest brands are perceived to be ‘moving ahead’ as a result of focusing on people’s wellbeing and inspiring change for the better. Consequently, it’s no coincidence that these brands are solving our world’s biggest challenges,” FutureBrand Australia CEO, Rich Curtis, commented. “What’s more, we’re seeing B2B brands continue their upward trend, once again leading the way – eight out of the top 10 in this year’s Index are B2B brands perceived to be at the forefront of the innovations that will shape our future.”

A local example Curtis pointed as fitting this bill was BHP, which is benefitting from a strong vision and clear future focus. BHP moved up one place to 59th in this year’s Index after improving its performance across all experience attributes and over-indexing on authenticity, mission and individuality.

“It’s these attributes that will make BHP highly resilient if and when a recession hits our local economy, a key benefit of building a strong brand. So too it’s reassuring to see Commonwealth Bank grow its market capitalisation to re-enter PwC’s Top 100 Companies and this financial growth is testament to the increase in the strength of its brand perceptions,” Curtis said.

“Year-on-year, our research tells us that brands are created with purpose, but they’re ultimately defined by the everyday experience. By strengthening that connection, your brand gives your business a measurable competitive advantage – so that more people will want to work for or buy from you.”

Another strong performance by an Australian company this year was Commonwealth Bank, which entered the list for the first time since 2018 at 91st spot. There are 18 financial companies on the list in total including four new entrants all out of the US: S&P Global, Blackstone, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley.  

In addition, the list features eight technology companies in the top 20, and 20 in the total 100. Movers and shakers included Tata Consultancy Services, Nvidia, Broadcom and Qualcomm. In healthcare, Danish pharmaceutical company, Novo, was seen to be doing well, while Nordisk led the sector list, rising 34 places to 34th spot this year.

In the consumer discretionary area, Netflix rose 12 places to 22nd, alongside other improvers, CATL, McDonald’s and Walmart. By contrast, only Nestle and Pepsi went up the rankings in the consumer staples category.

For FutureBrand Australia head of strategy, Victoria Berry, it’s becoming increasingly clear what it takes for brands and businesses to become future proof is constantly evolving.

“What was once all about delivering consistency across every touchpoint is now a question of demonstrating agility and adaptability to suit the needs of your customers and employees alike,” she said.

“It’s in these moments that matter that brands and businesses are able to establish the foundation of trust that’s critical to building competitive advantage. It should come as no surprise that trust is the number one driver for people wanting to work for or buy from a brand, and we’ve all seen how this has intensified the fierce competition for talent and the put pressure on organisations to live and breathe their employee value proposition, authentically and credibly.”

The FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap on perception strength, rather than financials. To do this, it uses 18 indicators, such as purpose, experience, resource management, people, authenticity and innovation.

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