Interbrand Releases the 2nd Annual Best Global Green Brands Report

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Toyota maintains its #1 position; Automotive and technology brands dominate the 2012 ranking.

Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy and author of the annual Best Global Brands report, has released its 2012 Best Global Green Brands report. Toyota (#1), Johnson & Johnson (#2), and Honda (#3) top the ranking with Danone (#9), Ford (#15), Starbucks (#36) and UPS (#43) representing this year’s top risers. This year’s report shows that industries around the world are taking actionable and quantifiable measures to improve both their sustainability performance and their degree of external reporting.

As sustainability initiatives continue to gain relevance in the C-suite and with consumers, companies in all sectors are striving to strike a winning balance between building a green business and effectively communicating sustainable practices in the global marketplace. Interbrand’s 2012 Best Global Green Brands report examines the gap that exists between corporate environmental practices and consumer perception of those practices using its 2011 Best Global Brands report, extensive consumer research and performance data provided by Deloitte – data based upon publicly available information.

“Sustainability has proven to be a strategic and profitable aspect of business and a brand-strengthening asset,” said Jez Frampton, Global Chief Executive Officer of Interbrand. “It is crucial that consumers’ impressions of a brand are in close alignment with that brand’s actual environmental performance. Otherwise, a brand’s efforts in this area could serve as an under-utilized asset, or, conversely, suffer due to accusations of ‘greenwashing.’”

David Pearson, Global Sustainability Leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, noted “It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainability is a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ for a lot of companies. It matters from a growth perspective; it matters from a cost and margin perspective; it matters from a brand value perspective. Closing the gap between sustainability performance and market perception is an incredibly important part of taking and continuing the sustainability journey.”

Key Themes
Automotive and technology brands dominate the 2012 ranking
In this year’s report, automotive and technology brands dominate the ranking. Toyota maintains the number one spot, continuing to make environmental sustainability a core management priority. The original Prius model -- the primary launchpad for Toyota’s green image -- has recently been expanded to encompass an entire family of sustainable automobiles, including the company’s first plug-in model. This year, Toyota also achieved near zero-landfill status at all of its North American manufacturing plants, and continues its commitment to build LEED certified buildings and dealerships.

With long term goals around fuel efficiency, superior energy use, and the reduction of toxic emissions, the automotive industry has been able to turn such consideration points into areas of environmental leadership. The industry as a whole has launched a competitive range of high-profile alternative fuel vehicles -- from electric models to hybrids -- and even some with internal combustible engines. Eight automotive brands appear in this year’s Best Global Green Brands ranking, with four brands ranking in the top 10: Toyota (#1), Honda (#3), Volkswagen (#4), BMW (#10), Ford (#15), Mercedes-Benz (#16), Hyundai (#17), and Nissan (#21). Overall, the automotive brands’ investment in developing and marketing fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles is paying off -- in terms of both performance and perception.

As technology continues to play a prominent role in consumers’ lives, leading technology brands are spearheading efforts to reduce their environmental impact. Panasonic jumped four spots to #6 in the Best Global Green Brands ranking this year. To showcase its leadership and comprehensive green technologies -- ranging from consumer electronics to energy management systems -- the company recently announced the conversion of a former factory site in Fujisawa near Tokyo into a “Sustainable Smart Town,” scheduled to be operation in 2014. Additionally, the brand has received recognition and a number of accolades from highly recognized indexes for corporate sustainability, including that from SAM (Sustainable Asset Management) and METI (the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry).

New Entrants: Nissan, H&M, and UBS
Nissan (#21), the Japanese automaker, appeared in this year’s Best Global Green Brands report for the first time. Nissan is making ambitious moves to reduce its carbon footprint worldwide with a new six-year environmental action plan called the Nissan Green Program. From the development of a new easier-to-install EV quick charger to pilot programs aimed at making cities EV ready, Nissan has set the stage for continued success in a world that looks poised to embrace zero emission mobility – and this is reflected in a high perception score.

H&M (#46), the Swedish clothing retailer, made headlines this year and impacted consumer perception with the launch of its eco-friendly “Conscious Collection,” a branded apparel line made using sustainable materials. The brand also saw solid improvement on the performance side; carbon emissions intensity declined and the company increased engagement with key stakeholders, while also providing fuller disclosure of its activities and environmental impacts.

UBS (#50) was one of the financial industry’s strongest performers. Despite emerging as the largest financial supporter of mountaintop removal mining in the United States, the brand saw a slight increase in its performance score, particularly in its operations rating, and made the ranking for the first time.

Top Risers: Danone, Ford, Starbucks, and UPS
Danone (#9) improved its ranking by remaining fiercely committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 30% by the end of 2012. It has already reached a level of -27.5%. Danone’s co-creation of the “Livelihoods Fund” in 2011 marks yet another milestone in its sustainability strategy. Ford (#15), too, stands out as a 2012 Best Global Green Brands success story. This year, the brand saw significant improvement in its environmental performance around both its operations (emissions, resource industry, etc), as well as its approach to transparent engagement and disclosure on its activities and its environmental impact. While the brand ranks #15 overall, Ford’s ability to maintain strong green perceptions while simultaneously improving its environmental performance serves as a great example to other global brands. Starbucks (#36) and UPS (#43) improved their overall ranking the most in this year’s report, both moving up six spots from where they ranked in the 2011 Best Global Green Brands report.

United States, Germany and Japan lead in terms of manufacturing and managing green brands
This year’s Top 50 Best Global Green Brands include 22 brands manufactured and managed in the United States. The leading American brand is Johnson & Johnson (#2), followed by Hewlett-Packard (#5), Dell (#7), Cisco (#11), and 3M (#12). Due to their technology and automotive brand dominance, Japan and Germany follow the United States. Each of these countries produced 7 of this year’s top 50 Best Global Green Brands.

The foundation of the annual Best Global Green Brands report is Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report. It is a report that, when published each fall, ranks 100 brands -- brands that have a global presence and a record of delivering value to stakeholders.

To make the top 50 Best Global Green Brands, organizations must perform well in terms of both sustainability performance and perception. Brands are measured against two sets of criteria:

Performance: Organizations must demonstrate that they source, produce, and distribute products and services in an environmentally responsible manner.

Perception: Organizations must work to build value amongst key audiences by credibly conveying the benefits of their environmental practices.

What Interbrand refers to as “the gap” is the difference between a brand’s performance and perception scores.

A positive gap indicates sustainability performance is actually higher than consumers perceive it to be.

A negative gap indicates consumers perceive a brand to be more of a sustainable leader than it actually is.

Performance Assessment
Deloitte examines each brand’s performance in terms of its sustainability/environmental initiatives as an input to Interbrand’s overall scoring methodology. For the purposes of the annual Best Global Green Brands report, Deloitte developed a corporate environmental performance methodology based on publicly available data drawn from such sources as Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Reports, Carbon Disclosure Project Responses, Annual Reports, 10-k filings, Company Websites, and the ASSET4 Database from Thomson Reuters. A brand’s Green Performance Score is composed of 82 metrics upon which each brand is ranked. The metrics evaluate companies’ disclosure and environmental performance across six “pillars:” Governance, Operations, Transportation and Logistics, Stakeholder Engagement, and Supply Chain. Such data is then inputted into Interbrand’s overall scoring methodology.

Perception Assessment
Interbrand examines how a brand’s sustainability efforts are perceived by consumers. Each brand’s perception score is determined through a consumer study covering 10,000 respondents; 1,000 in each of the 10 largest economies, including the US, Japan, China, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, India, and Canada. Each brand is assessed by 1,250 consumers using Interbrand’s six external brand strength pillars: Authenticity, Relevance, Differentiation, Consistency, Presence, and Understanding.

Overall Score
The Best Global Green Brand report’s overall scores are calculated by combining the standardized performance and perception scores. A discount factor is applied in those cases where positive perceptions of the brand outweigh a company’s actual green performance. The final ranking is determined based on the change in each brand’s overall score, relative to that brand’s 2011 result.

To learn more about Interbrand’s 2012 Best Global Green Brands report, please visit

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