The Value of Intangibles

I recently read a post in Leslie Gaines – Ross’s blog that she ( was sent a report in intangible assets (customer loyalty, know-how, talent, patents, innovativeness, leadership, reputation, ideas, etc.). The report is written by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and underscores the importance of intangible assets in the 21st century.

As the report rightly says, "Intangible value is the issue of the decade." She writes and I quote:

  • Intangibles make up 78% of the market value of the Fortune 500, 72% of the value of the FTSE 350 and 35% of the market of all listed companies worldwide.
  • In 1955, tangible assets accounted for nearly 80% of the value of non-financial businesses; by 2005 that figure fell to just over 50%.
  • The value of intangibles has tripled over the past 30 years.
  • Some sectors are more dependent on intangibles than others – Media (91% intangibles); Pharmaceuticals (89%); Food, Retail and Telecom; Oil and Gas; Banking. Those more dependent on tangibles include Insurance; Electricity; Automotive and Manufacturing.
  • The country with the largest proportion of intangible assets is Switzerland (probably because of Roche and Novartis), followed by India, U.S., U.K., and Canada.

These amazing facts once again prove the importance of reputation and the need to manage it well. CEO’s and other top leaders are increasingly held accountable for managing reputation and making sure no harm comes to it. For this very reason, CEOs receive more of the blame for any reputation erosion (Weber Shandwick’s research just found this to be the case).

Leslie Gaines-Ross goes on to write in her blog that “Reputation could become the fourth bottom line”.

Perhaps it will be in companies favour if they start to look at how other large organisations such as Fed-Ex and SAB Miller manage their reputations.

SABMiller plc, one of the world’s leading brewers, recently announced the appointment of Michael Farr as Head of Reputation and Corporate Communications for the Group, effective 01 March 2007. This is a newly created position at the company.

Reporting to Sue Clark, Corporate Affairs Director SABMiller plc, based in the UK, Michael will direct the development and positioning of SABMiller’s reputation across global stakeholder groups. He will be responsible also for a number of key activities to build the company’s corporate brand.

Michael will head a team which will also be responsible for SABMiller’s e-communications strategy, the production of corporate publications, events and hospitality activities and will also direct and develop the positioning of SABMiller with the company’s 70,000 employees across the group.

Commenting on the appointment, SABMiller’s Corporate Affairs Director Sue Clark said: “In creating this new position, SABMiller has given full acknowledgement to the fact that our reputation is one of our key assets. Michael is ideally placed to bring his expertise in the important areas of reputation and brand management to the group’s global operations.

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