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Some Unhappy Math On Brand Value

In 2008 Business Week magazine ranked Toyota's brand 6th globally, pegging a brand value (in millions) of $34,050. The methodology - from branding consultancy Interbrand - uses several factors:
  • Calculating the percentage of a company's sales falling under a specific brand.
  • Determining the earnings derived from that specific brand's power by removing operating costs, taxes and capital charges from earnings. What's left is earnings derived from intangible assets - brand power but also patents and management strength.
  • Estimating the brand's effect relative to the other two and discounting future earnings produces an estimated net present "brand value."
How have Toyota's recent quality issues affected the brand?

Until recently many Toyotas in the $20,000-to-$25,000 price range sold for a premium over sticker of as much as $2,000. Now, as reported in today's Wall Street Journal, they're selling for $500 below invoice, or $2,000 below retail. And that's with an additional $1,000 rebate from the Toyota wholesaler.

That adds up to $5,000 in lost revenue: the foregone $2,000 premium, an additional $2,000 discount from normal retail and a $1,000 rebate. $5,000 "lost" on a $25,000 car, or twenty percent.

I'll not bore you with the NPV math (not remembering how to do it anyway...) but a back-of-the-envelope calculation of a twenty percent revenue hit for, say, six months is (in millions) about $3,500, dropping right to the bottom line. $3.5 billion in in earnings and intangible brand value...gone.

Brand math looks great on the upside, doesn't it? Marketers love it. Accountants may not like it but, heck, they don't like anything. Maybe because what looks great going up comes down with a vengeance. And as much as accountants hate adding brand value to the balance sheet, they like taking it off even less.


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