What’s the Value in a Brand Name?

What are your favorite brands?  For me the list includes Starbucks, Snapple, Nike and Nordstrom.  One can argue the quality of the product is better but at the same time, you know you pay more.  The key question is determining the value of a brand is, "Do you have the power to charge a higher price for the same product?".  These companies, and the ones described in the article below have leveraged solid brands into higher margins.  The article concludes with four insights into branding that I found insightful...

 Via Mashable by Erica Swallow

Companies invest a lot of resources, including time, talent and capital, in an effort to procure a positive status in the minds of potential customers. But how much value do companies really derive from cultivating brand names?

According to Aswath Damodaran, Professor of Finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, a brand’s value is simply about the extent to which it can sell its goods and services at a premium price.

 Damodaran presented on valuating brands at Friday’s L2 Innovation Forum. He noted that many marketers mistakenly attribute product quality, styling, service and reliability to a brand name’s value, when all brand value ultimately comes down to is pricing power.


“If you as a company tell me that you have a brand name, I’m going to ask you a question: ‘Do you have the power to charge a higher price for the same product?’” Damodaran said, “If your answer is no, I don’t think you have a brand. You may think you do, but I don’t think your brand has any value.”

To prove the value of brand names, Damodaran compared two companies making similar products: Coca-Cola and Cott, makers of RC Cola. “Soda is water with a bunch of sugar and a lot of crap thrown in. You can put whatever you want on the outside of the can, but there is really no difference between a cola and another cola. You may say that Coca-Cola tastes different — that’s what 100 years of playing with your mind does to you,” he stated. The cola business, then, is all about branding, not the product, he stated.

Damodaran valued Coca-Cola’s business at $79.6 billion, while the value of Cott was limited to $15.4 billion. To figure out the pricing premium, he simply subtracted Cott’s value from Coca-Cola’s value, arriving at a $64.2 billion total worth for Coke’s brand alone. That’s about 80% of the company’s value. Damodaran noted that the key number driving the valuation is the companies’ operating margins — Coca-Cola’s margin is 15.57%, while Cott’s is 5.28%. The typical company has an operating margin of 5-7%, so Coca-Cola’s margin is phenomenal. The bottom line: If Coca-Cola suddenly lost its brand name tomorrow, its operating margins would drop to around 5.28%, and it would lose $64.2 billion of value.

Wouldn’t we all love to have brand names as strong as Coke’s? Of course. The problem is getting there. Damodaran provided four insights into the core of branding that every marketer should keep in mind when pursuing a valuable brand name.

Read the list here >>