Policing your brand, Olympic-style

The IOC brand police are out in force in London; should Yahoo be taking notes?

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That had better not be a Pepsi in your hand.

REUTERS/Neil Hall

By now, halfway into the London Olympics, we’re probably all familiar with how crazy the IOC folks are about protecting their brand - and those of their sponsors. The brand police will whack anyone not toeing the Olympic line, brand-wise, including athletes, spectators with mobile hotspots and even local sausage makers. I don’t want to say it’s gotten out of hand, but the Burger King here in my New England town now has a pair of golden arches.

Of course, there’s a method to the madness and the method’s goal is to increase the value of the Olympic brand - and, according to recent data from Brand Finance, a UK firm that evaluates brand value, it’s working out just fine.

Matter of fact, it’s working out better than fine; it’s working out better than it does for any other brand in the world other than one named after a fruit that, if eaten every day, will keep the doctor away. Using a formula based on (among other things( brand strength and the net present value of future revenues, they estimate that the current value of the Olympic brand is $47.5 billion, second in the world to Apple ($70.6 billion). Now you see why they don’t want London cafes making the Olympic rings out of bagels?

Actually, now that I’ve perused the top 500 global brands of 2012, I’m thinking the IOC folks are really onto something here. Consider the brand values of the following technology companies:

Company 2012 Brand value 2012 Global rank
Apple $70.6 billion 1
Google $47.5 billion 2
Microsoft $45.8 billion 3
Amazon $28.7 billion 10
AT&T $28.4 billion 11
Verizon $27.6 billion 12
Intel $21.9 billion 20
HP $21.7 billion 21
Oracle $17.0 billion 39
Dell $11.6 billion 72
eBay $8.9 billion 98
Facebook $8.8 billion 102
Yahoo! $4.5 billion 224
BlackBerry $3.3 billion 342
PayPal $2.8 billion 410

Maybe some tech companies should take a page out of the Olympic branding playbook and put some more effort into protecting their own brands.

For example, Google: sure, they’re sitting pretty at number two, but they have a long way to go to catch Apple. Might I suggest hiring a crew of enforcers to prevent couples in the park from making googly-eyes at each other without having licensed the right?

Or maybe new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer should start bringing the hammer down on people who use her company’s name during moments of exuberance (couples and cowboys beware).

Perhaps Amazon could creep a little further up the brand value list if they blew the whistle on fire departments that haven’t licensed the f-word for use on their trucks.

At the very least everyone on this list other than Apple should consider banning all variety of said fruit (e.g., Granny Smith’s, Fuji, MacIntosh, Red/Golden Delicious, etc.) from their company cafeterias. And while they’re at it, I’d also consider banning any Beatles music from the White Album onward, just to be safe.

Catch my drift? Think outside the box*, Ms Mayer!

* I’d have said “Think outside the bun,” but the IOC may be listening.

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