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With the advent of mass media in the 1960s, immortalized in the TV series Mad Men, the pace of brand introduction, sophistication, and importance accelerated dramatically. The world has witnessed a “Cambrian explosion” of brands. The digital revolution of the twenty-first century with cheap mobiles, big data, social media, and global connectivity has further accelerated this process. Brands have become ubiquitous in today’s marketplace. And analysis of the annual rankings of the world’s most powerful brands by consultancies Brand Finance, Interbrand, and Millward Brown confirms that the strongest brands in about any industry are almost invariably global brands.
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The term Cambrian explosion of brands was first used by Marc de SwaanArons; http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/10/how-brands-were-born-a-brief-history-of-modern-marketing/246012/. It is inspired by one of the greatest—if not the greatest—explosion of species in the history of the world, which took place in a relatively short time (geologically speaking) of about 20–25 million years in the Cambrian era, which started 542 million years ago; http://burgess-shale.rom.on.ca/en/science/origin/04-cambrian-explosion.php; both sites accessed January 21, 2016.
Millward Brown: http://www.millwardbrown.com/brandz; Brand Finance: http://brandirectory.com/; Interbrand: http://interbrand.com/best-brands/. A notable exception is banking, where the average value of a top ten regional bank (e.g., Wells Fargo, ICBC) is more than twice the average value of a top ten global bank (e.g., HSBC, Citi), according to Millward Brown. This is due to the great complexities in running global banks in a context of ever stricter, but country-specific legislation (think about compliance officers).
My definition is based on De Mooij, Marieke (1998), Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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- The Cambrian Explosion of Brands
- Palgrave Macmillan UK