The world’s truly great brands all have a few things in common: They are built on genuine quality and success; they find their own unique niche in a market; and they stand for something beyond their marketing campaigns by actually enhancing life for consumers in fresh and creative ways. 

Moreover, each of the greatest brands is great in large part because it has a great story behind it—a story it tells with focus and passion, over and over again. A growing number of experts in the art of marketing and branding are coming to realize that a great brand is “cinematic.” It offers a multidimensional impact that incorporates not only its core product or service identity, but also the tone and inflection of its voice, and the broader environment in which it interacts with the public. 

Apple – designing for its customers

Apple is an obvious but necessary choice for this list, simply because its name and logo have become iconic representations of innovation in function and design. The brand’s central product, according to a range of analysts, isn’t even its meticulously created smartphone: it’s the in-depth thought process behind all Apple products and, most of all, the company’s deep commitment to customer care. Recent branding studies have shown that people all over the world recognize and respond to the Apple logo as instantaneously evoking these ideas.

Additionally, the company’s central business values saturate its entire brand identity, down to the displays in its more than 500 stores located around the world. 

Coca-Cola – sharing happiness

People in more than 200 countries consume an estimated total of nearly 2 billion servings of Coca-Cola every day. But the brand’s global success isn’t due solely—or even chiefly—to the sweet, refreshing taste of its best-known product. Experts note that the Coca-Cola brand has become embedded in popular consciousness as a symbol of something everybody wants: happiness. That easily translated message continues to resonate for a reason. It’s a simple feeling to convey in words and images, and it’s part of humanity’s eternal quest. The Coca-Cola company also goes out of its way to personalize its products and messaging in each culture in which it does business, a necessary task for a global brand.

The happiness that Coca-Cola is selling isn’t just meant for individuals alone; it’s meant to be shared. The company’s social media campaigns take its lasting brand image as a memorable experience, accessible to everyone, and boost it by encouraging others to “share a Coke” with family and friends.  

Veuve Clicquot – the world’s champagne

Veuve Clicquot champagne has become synonymous with the idea of what branding experts call “accessible luxury.” There are plenty of sommeliers who would look askance at the 200-plus-year-old brand for that reason alone, but that’s not the point. It’s not too much to say that, for numerous consumers today, Veuve Clicquot is champagne, and champagne is Veuve Clicquot. 

Part of its reputation is based on innovation and longevity. Designed by the real Veuve (“Widow”) Clicquot herself, the riddling rack corking mechanism was the transformation that allowed champagne to be mass-produced, and it is still in use today. Movie and television shows continue to reference the brand over and over, and this savvy product placement keeps its distinctively yellow-jacketed shape constantly in the popular consciousness. 

Paul Smith – “classics with a twist”

Paul Smith is a quieter brand, but that’s part of its identity as an exemplar of distinctive elegance. It’s built around the work of its namesake, one of the foremost designers of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories in the United Kingdom—and the world. In keeping with Smith’s aesthetic since he went into business in 1970, the brand focuses on creating beautifully tailored pieces that are “classics with a twist.” Its apparel and accessories feature inventive linings, unusually colored buttons, and the like.  

The items produced under the Paul Smith logo have carved out their own distinct niche within the space between avant-garde fashion design and traditional formal wear, a market in which it’s particularly challenging to achieve lasting success. 

The simple typography of the brand’s logo consists solely of the designer’s signature. In addition, its multicolored pinstripe pattern has earned instantaneous recognition from the smaller but discerning set of consumers who appreciate quirkiness, quality, and individuality. 

Mercedes-Benz – embodying luxury

Mercedes-Benz and its three-pointed star logo have enjoyed multiple consecutive rankings at the top of Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands list. In 2020, the German carmaker was the only European brand in the marketing consultancy’s overall top 10 list, which also included Apple and Coca-Cola. Mercedes-Benz also ranks atop numerous other global lists of the most popular luxury cars. For generations, it has stood as an incarnation of richness in product quality, comfort, design, and superior handling and performance, and it continues to enjoy exceptional customer loyalty. 

Once again, we see with this brand that the customer experience is key to its longevity and profitability. The Mercedes-Benz executive team told media in 2020 that the big secret to its success is its incessant dedication to customer needs. Experts note in particular the company’s keen ability to understand that its customers want a more modern sensation of luxury, and to deliver on that expectation in every aspect of design, production, and marketing. Mercedes-Benz prides itself on its ability to build brand experiences for its customers that reaffirm their connections to its products, and to marshal a range of forward-looking print, digital, and other types of collateral to keep this image before the broader public. 

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