Monday, September 30, 2013

We're Number 68!

Is it worth shouting about an award if you aren't among the Top Ten winners?

Today, Apple is the world's No. 1 Brand, according to Interbrand, a brand consulting agency (surprise!) that annually assigns an economic value to the best-known global brands. This year, Apple bounced long-time top dog Coca-Cola off the Global Brands summit, landing it just below Google at No. 2. (Read the whole list here.)

Business awards are our industry's cottage industry. A publication or organization looking to gain credibility creates some form of award competition, invites nominees, recognizes the winning companies at a banquet or news conference -- and then tries to leverage the relationship into an exchange of cash. Buying an ad or a membership. Licensing the award logo for use on packaging or in ads. And so on.

Everyone likes recognition. Even if it's not cheap. Once J.D. Power recognizes your company as tops in customer satisfaction, you need to pay a minimum five-figure sum to use their black-and-gold award in any of your promotional materials.

But, if you earn recognition and want to crow about it, make sure your organization is one of the top three honorees. Or five. Or ten. At some point, there's less lustre of success if you're buried somewhere down a list of winners.

For example, DiversityInc. runs an annual Top 50 Companies for Diversity. More than 300 companies submit entry documents. If you're one of the ten best, that deserves a news release. If you're among the top 25, it deserves a brief mention internally and perhaps externally. If you're No. 50, however, the recognition may not be seen as the crowning achievement you'd like it to be.

And Panasonic, the global electronics manufacturer? They steamed onto Interbrand's Global Brands list at No. 68. That's not a misprint. No. 68.

What's more, Panasonic issued a news release highlighting its stellar feat. Sixty-eighth, out of 100. More baffling: they took the opportunity to mention they'd dropped three spots from the 2012 list, and talk about a new executive, a turnaround plan, and a slogan. All in one stew of a release. 

How does that change your perception of Panasonic?

Semi-full disclosure: I love and use Panasonic's Lumix digital cameras. I own several, and maybe you do, too. Panasonic builds compact digital cameras for several of the leading camera brands in the world. 

I once worked with a marketing VP who's now doing similar work for Panasonic. But I hope my VP pal wasn't calling the plays when Panasonic issued its "We're No. 68" news release. That's big leap from rival Samsung's No. 8 showing on  Interbrand's list. Or Hewlett Packard at No. 15. Or Canon at No. 35. 

Highlighting your No. 68 ranking tells audiences that you have a long way to go. No one's going to order up a crate of T-shirts saying "No. 68 and Proud" for employees to wear. 

And, it's not a winning PR tactic to build awareness for a company that's been eclipsed by Samsung and more agile electronics companies.