In today's world, where there are thousands of companies for each product and consumers are spoilt for choice, it often becomes difficult to decide which brand to choose. And matters are not made easy by the advertising blitzkrieg that one has to face on a daily basis via television, magazines, billboards, radio, internet and now mobile phones.
So how does one decide which is the best brand and hence, the best value for money?
Help is at hand in the garb of one organisation that cuts through the clutter and gives a clear-cut picture of the best brands worldwide and regionally.
Superbrands is an independent organisation that is globally recognised as being the international arbiter of excellence in branding. Superbrands has been operating since 1994 and today there are Superbrands programmes in 85 countries around the world.
A council set up by Superbrands chooses the best brands globally and regionally and gives them the Superbrand Award.
Often referred to as the 'Oscars of Branding', the Superbrands awards have achieved international acclaim for being an independent and unbiased authority on branding excellence. This is because Superbrands is renowned for its commitment towards the cause of promoting exceptional brands and the discipline of branding worldwide.
Recently Canon Middle East was nominated for a 2009 Superbrand Award for the fifth year in a row in the UAE, Egypt and Kuwait.
Emirates Business spoke to Superbrands Middle East and Canon to find out a little more about the Superbrand Council and what makes a superbrand.
In the UAE Superbrands was set up in 2002 and every year it chooses a new council to decided on the superbrands in the country.
Mike English, Director, Superbrands Middle East, told Emirates Business: "Council members are appointed by Superbrands and are people who have been successful in business in that particular marketplace, have an affinity for branding and are opinion leaders in the community.
"The UAE's Superbrand Council comprises some of the country's most eminent media and communications executives, along with some of the sharpest business minds in the UAE.
"In the UAE there are 12 members including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, Colm McCloughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, Leila Suhail, CEO of Dubai Shopping Festival, John Brash, Managing Director of Brash Brands, Tauhid Abdullah, Managing Director of Damas, Mishal Kanoo, Deputy Chairman of Kanoo Group, John Deykin, Managing Director of TMH and Kim Redman, Director of Dubai Shopping Malls Group."
To be voted as a Superbrand by the independent council is a powerful endorsement and evidence for existing customers, potential customers, the media, suppliers, investors and employees of the brand's exceptional status. The brands also appear in the Superbrands UAE book which traces the origins of the brand and studies how the brand has risen to its position of pre-eminence.
A diverse selection of industry sectors are featured in the book ranging from FMCG's through to corporate giants. Many leading international brands are featured alongside some of the UAE's strongest homegrown brands. The inclusion of brands from diverse categories such as technology, finance, lifestyle, retail and fast moving consumer goods brands make Superbrands UAE a fascinating and accurate reflection of the Emirates way of life.
So what is the definition of a superbrand and how are the brands chosen?
English explained: "A Superbrand is a brand that offers consumers significant emotional and/or physical advantages over its competitors which (consciously or subconsciously) consumers want, recognise and are willing to pay a premium for.
"There are many different criteria for choosing a superbrand but fundamentally we ask our voters to ask themselves three things – do I feel comfortable with this brand?, do I trust this brand? and does this brand ever promise things that it cannot deliver? The brands are scored on the basis of brand affinity, brand personality and brand quality.
"Then the Superbrands Council, scores all the brands and the top scoring brands which meet these and other criteria set by the council are awarded with Superbrands status." The number and list of winners differs each year as Superbrands are those brands that score 80 per cent or more of the total possible score. As the council does not take into account the industry sectors so there can be several brands from each sector or none at all. Superbrands makes no distinction between local brands and international brands.
In its five years of existence in the UAE many companies from the region and multinational firms have been awarded Superbrand status.
In the UAE the award has been won by ETA Star, Emaar, Nakheel, Ski Dubai, Emirates Bank, Damas, IBM, Starbucks Coffee, Xerox, Western Union, MasterCard, Canon, Panasonic and Hertz to name a few.
"The main objective behind granting superbrand status is to identify, recognise and reward excellence in branding," English concluded.
Canon MD speaks
Excerpts from the interview with Bertil Widmark, Managing Director, Canon Middle East.
How does it feel being selected as a Superbrand?
We feel very honoured as Canon's nomination by an independent council such as Superbrands is a testament to its strong brand recognition and leadership in the field of imaging, printing and business technologies. We are committed to delivering world class, leading edge products and solutions and meeting and anticipating the needs of customers.
What does it do for your business?
This nomination reflects the very ethos of our brand as a pioneer in its field. To be nominated for a Superbrand award is a powerful endorsement and evidence of our brand's status.
What did you do to be nominated for this title?
Canon's reputation for consistently delivering high standards has supported the success of the company and its brand. It constantly strives to maintain this reputation through a consistent, measured approach to its product innovations and through its Kyosei philosophy which 'believes in working and living together for the common good'. Our strong roots in optical imaging has given our research and development team a wealth of knowledge from which to draw, making sure that all their products are of the highest standard.
We aim to enrich our customers' lives by helping them to realise their goals at work and at home, through their innovative products and services.