Winning and losing in the brand race

Who are the UK superbrands? Which brands are gaining ground and who’s slipping out of sight? And how does the Ruber Effect explain the winners and losers in the race for brand leadership?


When my daughter was small, I once took her to the horse racing. Children aren’t allowed to bet, so I put some money on a horse called Ruber for her. Clutching her ticket, she stood with me by the finish line.


As the race neared its end, Ruber panted towards us. Closing rapidly behind him, the rest of the field thundered towards the finishing post.

“Come on, Ruber!” squealed Evie.


“Er, Evie,” I said, “Ruber still has another lap to go…” Poor old Ruber wasn’t winning: he was about to be lapped by all the other horses.

And there you have it: a metaphor, if not for life, then for brand leadership.


Sometimes you think you’re ahead of the game only because you have no idea how far behind you really are.


It highlights how quickly the laurels can slip from the brow of superbrands as new competitors get set to overtake their plodding progress.


Superbrands is an annual barometer of the UK marketing performance based on peer review and a large representative public sample.

It’s instructive, if not hugely scientific, to see which superbrand has been dropping down and out of the charts in recent years – and who’s coming up fast.


The reasons behind individual superbrand rankings may be complex (and the survey is subjective). Sure, there are some real ‘product’ issues at play. However, it’s also not hard to see how a lack of brand vitality erodes relevance and differentiation, leading to loss of brand stature.


Since 2015, previous front-runners like Microsoft, BMW and even the BBC have fallen from the Top 20.


In contrast, brands like Rolex, Visa, Samsung, Apple, Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s have consistent staying power while the likes of Lego and Andrex have found new winning form.


You can view the 2021 Superbrands guide for UK here