WALL STREET DOESN’T UNDERSTAND BRAND RELEVANCY:

Not every Wall Street analyst understands how important brand relevancy is when assessing a company for investment purposes. Consumers have better and more timely information than most “experts.” Why? Because they shop, they spend time researching the options, and they see where the crowds are gathering and where the stores are empty. We have all the knowledge necessary to be great stock pickers, sometimes we just need to connect the dots back to our investment portfolio’s.

BRAND RELEVANCY is the key to identifying current and future consumer trends and which brands are really resonating with consumers. These great companies are the companies we have chosen to be loyal to for all of our product & service needs.It’s logical to assume the brands that have the most mind/wallet-share are likely the companies taking market share, generating more revenue and cash flows. Those are great companies to work for and typically, great investments to make.

A BRAND RELEVANCY SCORING SYSTEM NEEDED TO BE CREATED:

There is a rigorous process to determine the brands that are most relevant as you might imagine. This process is both qualitative and quantitative and it’s how I identify the disruptive innovators serving the consumption theme. The quant process is pretty straightforward but the qualitative component requires a significant amount of research and adds some important subjectivity. Together, they offer an investor a significant edge when assessing potential investments.

Here’s a list of some of the important characteristics that help me laser-in on the best brands (absolute & relative to peers). 

Quantitative factors:

  • Revenues & revenue growth.

  • EPS growth.

  • Operating margins and the potential to expand margins.

  • Return on invested capital – can you generate strong returns from the cash you generate?

  • Dividend growth & and the consistency of raising those dividends - Dividend Aristocrats.

  • Quality of the balance sheet: debt, debt coverage, debt repayment etc.

  • Cash flow measures: FCF generation, FCF growth, FCF per share, cash as % of market cap.

  • Superior price momentum over multiple time periods.

  • History of outperforming the S&P 500 over multiple time periods.

  • Traditional valuation metrics like: Price/Sales, FCF Yield, P/B, P/FCF.

  • Current market share vs total addressable market opportunity.

  • Social media penetration & how much interaction seems to be happening with consumers.

  • ESG scores & how in-touch the company is with the importance of strong corporate governance.

  • Inclusion into ETF’s that focus on ESG or other offerings that measure strong business behavior.

  • Recognition for being “admired companies”, “disruptive companies”, and/or “top companies to work for”.

  • Recognized for being included in “most valuable brands” reports from important brand consulting firms.

Qualitative factors:

  • Industry leadership - current & emerging + exhibiting the factors that drive continued leadership.

  • Playing in large secular themes that are unstoppable.

  • Having an enormous opportunity set: domestic and/or global.

  • Demographic relevance - appealing to every demographic group versus a few.

  • Empowered corporate or team culture.

  • Corporate responsibility. Having a mission, vision, and values statement that matters to customers.

  • Culture of innovation and being willing to self-disrupt.

  • Strong and deep management teams.

  • Offer a differentiated customer experience.

  • Corporate insiders that have high incentives to succeed.

  • High Investor Relations acumen with a focus on story-telling to investors & analysts.

  • Relentless focus on the customer & adding new follow-on capabilities.

  • High creativity factor.

  • Aspirational within the peer group.

  • High customer loyalty.

  • High brand love.

  • Business models that are expensive and/or too complex to replicate offering an economic moat.

  • Large patent and trademark portfolios (intangible assets).

  • Maintain a house of highly relevant brands under 1 roof that offer a compounding effect.

  • Unique & differentiated store aesthetics.

  • Products & services worth paying for and that offer pricing power.

  • Recurring revenue and/or subscription-based models.

  • Heavy emphasis on physical and the online experience.

  • Being great story-tellers to build passion in the eyes of customers.

  • Produce products/services that make people look & feel good and keep them entertained.

SUMMARY:

Brand relevancy is vitally important for brand dominance and for consumption investing. Identifying the most RELEVANT brands is not an easy process but it offers a significant edge when trying to pick the stocks for a portfolio. Since there was no “off-the-shelf” way to measure brand relevancy, a scoring system needed to be created. This approach can be used by Brand Strategists working directly with brands, by Wall Street Analysts researching brands, and by individual investors looking to assess their current positions and identify new positions. The brand relevancy scoring system I developed has been super helpful for the Brands Index selection process as well as the stock selection for the Alpha Brands suite of investments with my partners at Accuvest Global Advisors.

For now, I am keeping the Brand Relevancy Score for each brand behind the curtain but I expect to have a more transparent version available for DIY investors as well as for brand strategists and investment analysts on a subscription basis.