Walt Disney Named FutureBrand Index's Most Futureproof Company

The 2018 FutureBrand Index reveals how strongly the world’s top 100 companies are positioned for future success.

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The Walt Disney Company is the global firm that’s best positioned for future success, according to the 2018 FutureBrand Index.

The Index re-orders PwC’s Global Top 100—the largest companies in the world by market capitalization—using responses from 3,000 senior business figures from across the globe to measure each firm’s ‘futureproof factor,’ or how strongly they’re positioned for future success.

Brands that stand at the top of the Index are judged to have the right qualities in balance to make people want to work for, buy from and invest in them. The dominant theme emerging from the 2018 Index is that the companies seen as best positioned for future success are those that that blend purpose with experience.

“The Index shows that the brands performing the best, irrespective of which sector they’re in or how well-established they may be, are those that consistently align the totality of the experiences they create with their wider corporate purpose,” says Nick Sykes, president international, FutureBrand. “Comparing this year’s results to previous versions of the Index shows there’s no room for complacency. If brands lose their focus on the balance of attributes they need for future success, they quickly fall down the rankings.”

Several other striking themes also emerged: China’s rise is entering a new phase, the tech sector is faltering, and many of the world’s oldest firms in unfashionable sectors are proving more durable than expected.  

The top five companies in the 2018 FutureBrand Index are:

  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Kweichow Moutai Co.
  • Gilead Sciences
  • Apple Inc.
  • AbbVie Inc.

The fastest climbers are:

  • Sinopec (up 42 places)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (up 30)
  • Verizon (up 26)
  • China Life Insurance (up 24)
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev (up 23)

The biggest fallers are:

  • LVMH (down 51 places)
  • Walmart (down 45)
  • Ambev (down 38)
  • Facebook (down 37)
  • Toronto Dominion Bank (down 29) 

US Remains Dominant, but China is Moving Up

With 54 of the PWC Top 100 and 13 of the 25 most future proofed brands, U.S. firms dominate both the list of today’s successful global companies and the list of those companies best positioned to succeed in the future.

The top futureproofed brand in 2016 was Apple, which drops to fourth in this year’s Index. Gilead Sciences, Nike, AbbVie and Nvidia are the other U.S. companies in the top 10. Last year’s second-placed company, Microsoft, dropped 10 places to 12.

Although there are far more U.S. firms in both the PWC Top 100 and the FutureBrand list than from any other country, both lists also feature more Chinese firms than ever before. Chinese spirits giant Kweichow Moutai came second in this year’s list of the most futureproofed brands.

Increasingly, the story of China is not one of a rising middle class aspiring to Western brands; it is Chinese brands offering new competition to established players in the North American and European markets.

The Evolution of Tech

The Index also suggests that consumers’ perception of technology companies is evolving, with the purpose behind their ground-breaking technology coming into sharper focus.

To be successful in the 2018 Index, tech sector firms must do more than come up with the latest technology; they must use it to create better products, services and experiences that improve the lives of their customers.

This year, almost every tech company in the Index fell in the rankings and saw dramatic drops in perceptions of having a clear sense of the future (from 39 percent in 2014 to 34 percent in 2018), inspiring change for the better (from 34 percent in 2014 to 29 percent in 2018) and having strong ideas and principles (from 36 percent in 2014 to 31 percent in 2018). Despite their financial success, the tech sector has also seen falls in individual trust levels (from 35 percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2018).

No Room for Complacency

Since the first Index was published in 2014, nine companies have consistently been recognized as futureproofed brands: Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Inditex, Walt Disney, AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung and Toyota.

It’s a bit of a new era marketing cliché to say that to survive, all brands must have instant appeal and be agile and fast-moving,” says Sykes. “We say that in fact, the best-managed brands are those that combine a compelling brand experience with a clear sense of purpose, and these nine, more established companies, are a good example of that.”