Growing Global: 4 Regions Cultivating Breakthrough Brands

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For the second year running, in partnership with The New York Stock Exchange, Ready Set Rocket, and Facebook, Interbrand has assembled its Breakthrough Brands Report. Similar to its annual Best Global Brands list—an innovation in itself for its ISO-certified methodology—this report highlights 40 top brands reshaping markets worldwide. These brands earned their place in the report by meeting Interbrand’s five key measures for industry disruption: differentiation, clarity, presence, relevance, and engagement.

Though these are ingredients for innovation indeed, they aren’t cultivated without understanding of external factors. The following are a few insights about each major region the most forward-thinking brands are leveraging for fast, longstanding growth this year.


Cities across much of the EMEA region are becoming hubs of innovation. Spain’s cities have become centers of startup culture, lifestyle, and technology. The broad investment infrastructure of Paris has just become home to the world’s largest startup campus. Across Germany, startup investment reached €2.2 billion in 2016.

Along with this acceleration of breakthrough activity comes significant shifts in priorities among cultures and societies. For example, demand is growing for more control, bespoke experiences, and simpler ways of living. This means brands are having to rethink how they deliver content and balance these local needs with greater globalization demands.


Latin America, a diverse and growing region, is rife with both opportunities and challenges after decades of underdevelopment. As connectivity develops, brands are seeking to fill gaps in infrastructure, education, retail, basic services, health, and finance. In finance, for example, fintech companies such as Ripio and Nubank are targeting younger consumers through blockchain and digital technology.

However, there is still limited access to education, funding, and government support. Since entrepreneurs lack significant investment sources, support has thus far come from within. The most successful brands—largely in Brazil—traditionally innovate at home and garner loyalty through local campaigns, but the true breakthroughs are seeking growth throughout the region.

North America

From Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley, the tech boom across North America has fundamentally changed how we work, play, and spend. In every aspect, the focus is on experience. The workplace is racing to catch up with increasingly demanding employee expectations; in the tech sector, software is overtaking hardware in delivering seamless, integrated experiences; and retail has exhausted traditional methods of attracting consumers.

Unlike LatAm, there are ample opportunities for investment in North America. Canada startups have government backing, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects. The U.S. is facing a huge challenge: political and economic factors bearing on loss of trust in institutions. In order to earn back trust, a sense of community, transparency, and clear purpose is key.


In another diverse and fast-changing economy, Asia-Pacific countries are soon to be home to many more revolutionary brands. Societies are growing an appreciation for quality over price, meaningful experiences, and authentic, differentiated brand stories. Consumer decisions are driven by a boom in mobile technology, which is revolutionizing daily life. The transport sector is also transforming society, with brands such as NIO (China) and Ingogo (Australia) advancing mobility.

China and Australia aren’t the only APAC countries seeing huge shifts in consumer preferences. In Korea, K-culture is driving the beauty industry; brands in India are tasked with navigating one of the most culturally diverse markets in the world; Japan is pioneering gaming apps; and Singapore startups are fueled by a boost in foreign wealth fund investment.

Key takeaways

  • In EMEA, growth is hindered by uncertainty as consumer behaviors evolve. However, brands are responding successfully to this challenge by meeting the need for mobile-first, personalized, and life-simplifying experiences.
  • LatAm is still recovering from decades of underdevelopment and is left with gaps in key areas such as education—but companies are filling them. A spirit of entrepreneurship and regional growth mindset will be the way forward.
  • Technology has made waves in North America, a growth culture by nature, allowing brands experimentation in engaging experiences. Brands with a strong, clear purpose are taking the biggest share of investment and customer loyalty.
  • APAC brands are seizing opportunities in the midst of a myriad societal transformations, including preference for quality over price, authentic brand stories, mobile and on-demand services, and innovative approaches to mobility.
  • Across the globe, growth is the goal—and to differentiate internationally, awareness of both local cultures and globalization is the basis of innovation.


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