As Google once again makes it to the top of Millward Brown’s top “BrandZ” report for 2009 as ‘Most Valuable Global Brand’, we ask what makes a great global brand and find that the answers can help even the smallest of locally-driven businesses in creating their own great brand.

Millward Brown, the leading brand, communication and media research agency, announced earlier this month that Google is the number one ‘Most Valuable Global Brand’ for another year in a row; their “brand value” is up 16% from $86 billion to $100 billion this year. The rankings, which are calculated on consumer surveys, corporate earnings and projected future growth, among other factors, saw Microsoft come in at number two, valued at $76 billion which was up 8% from last year, and Yahoo only ranking 81, valued at $7 billion which was a harsh decline of 31% from last year.

What does the creator of this well-regarded list, Millward Brown, consider to be fundamental to a great global brand, and what can a small or medium sized business learn from such fundamental aspects? In July, one of the MD’s of Millward Brown set out the six fundamentals (gleaned from over three decades of research) behind global brand success:

An efficient and scalable business model
A great brand experience
A distinctive positioning
A sense of dynamism
A sense of authenticity
A bond with local consumers

Interestingly, Millward Brown identified establishing a connection with local consumers as the hardest for global brands, indicating that smaller, more locally-focused businesses that are able to do this with greater ease than international companies can make huge strides in branding if they manage to succeed in the other five areas.

While an efficient business model and a distinctive market positioning come down to the very foundations of any business, creating a great brand experience and a sense of dynamism and authenticity can be achieved with the help of your web marketing team. Work closely with them to ensure these messages are being effectively conveyed in all of your digital marketing. Is your SEO provider giving you great quality content that helps back up these messages? Are your PPC adverts written with branding in mind and not just conversions? Have you ever even discussed your branding with your SEO provider? Even if they are not helping you develop your online branding, you need to make sure that their search engine optimisation and search engine marketing efforts on your behalf are in line with the wider branding of your company.

Finally, when Google was asked what they thought was key to their success as the most valuable global brand, they said that focusing on users was by far and away the most important factor. This could well be the most salient lesson to be learned here; refining and polishing your brand to be in line with your competitors is all very well, but forget your users and it’s a pointless exercise. Not only will you never make it as a top brand, global or local, but your business will in fact suffer by damaging the all-important user experience.