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Interbrand is out with its annual “Most Valuable Retail Brands” list, saying that Walmart maintains its place atop the list.

According to the report, “Walmart is still #1 by a huge margin, with a brand value over US $139 billion, down 2% from last year. Target holds on to the #2 position with a value of US $23 billion, up 1% from 2011. The Home Depot maintains its hold on #3, while CVS/pharmacy moves up to #4, surpassing Best Buy, who experienced an 11% decline in brand value and falls to #5 on the list. Walgreens remains at #6, while Coach's 16% increase propels them to #7, now ahead of Sam's Club (#8). Top riser is #9 and eBay moves into the top 10 for the first time. eBay replaces Dell, which falls off the list due to the fact it no longer meets the criteria for the list with less than 50% of its revenues from sales through its branded retail locations.”

Other notables on the list include #12 Publix, #14 Dollar General, #15 Costco, #38 Whole Foods, #29 Dollar Tree, and #47 Family Dollar.

"One of the most compelling lessons from the list is that the best brands didn't stand idly by, waiting for further signs of recovery. They contributed to it by anticipating their customer's desire to return—not to shopping as usual—but to something better," said Bruce Dybvad, CEO of Interbrand Design Forum. "For the most part, companies have invested in better store experiences and put more capabilities into the hands of their shoppers."
KC's View:
I’m guessing that Apple does not make the list for the same reason that Dell fell off the list. It also is instructive that Barnes & Noble is not on the list.

One of the things I agree with in the Interbrand analysis is what the company says about the importance of storytelling in creating brand equity. Two quotes along this line:

• ”While retail has historically been extremely operationally focused, more retailers are looking to brand to build value. A brand must develop a theme beyond a shopper's need for function and identity by adding even more emotion and dimension. The trick is to find the value beyond the transaction. The world's best brands know what the customer values, and work relentlessly to provide it for them.”

• “Experience is the defining element of any brand. It provides the memory that prompts repeat use, or doesn't. Shoppers expect their favorite brands to speak in a consistent voice, in-store, online and in traditional and digital channels. In retail it is extremely difficult to get all the customer-facing components to talk the same talk to convey consistency and relevancy. Design is the ticket to breaking out of an old brand identity to re-inspire your customers. It can help add excitement and drama to routine transactions and its storytelling ability can energize brand culture.”

I’m a little dubious about the Walmart ranking, which strikes me as having more to do with size and ubiquity than the creation of a dynamic shopping experience. But maybe that’s just me.