Editor's Note: Introduction to SuperBrands 2010

By Todd Wasserman

Think about your favorite brand. Chances are you've had a positive experience with it, find the advertising speaks to you in a somewhat flattering fashion and are attracted to the aura around the brand in such a way that you desire some sort of association. Beyond that, though, there's a factor that's more subliminal. Change. In general, we want our brands to evolve along with us, even to challenge us in some ways. If it's a car, we want the new model to look different—better—than last year. If it's a sneaker, we want it to be lighter or prettier. If it's a detergent, we want to know that the company behind it will stop at nothing until the formula gets clothes cleaner than anything else. Otherwise, who cares about your detergent brand? Why not just buy private label instead?

This dynamic nature of brands bolsters the metaphor that they are living, breathing things. The Coca-Cola of 2004 is different in important ways than the one in 2008 and so forth.

Such is the thinking behind Superbrands, our annual look at the top consumer brands. In the following report, compiled by the staff of Brandweek, we look at some of the top brands in the top categories and the challenges they are facing in 2010. For each category, we also pick a "Brand to Watch," that is, a brand that has the power to change the game by its insurgency or by its potential downfall. (Note: Half of these 20 stories appear in print in this issue; the other half will run only on brandweek.com, along with our list of the top 2,000 brands, which is free to subscribers.)

Superficially, many of the marketing challenges appear to be economy-driven, but on a deeper level, success is dictated by how well a brand rolls with the times. If you're the guy who runs marketing at, say, Budweiser, how do you advance the Budweiser story in a way that's of-the-moment and yet is in keeping with the brand's ethos? It's trickier than it sounds, especially in today's social media happy environment. But, as Anheuser-Busch vp, marketing Keith Levy says, paraphrasing Woody Allen in Annie Hall, a brand is like a shark—if it doesn't move forward, it will die. And nobody wants a dead shark on their hands.
—The Editors

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Methodology: Finding America's Top Brands
How we create the list of American Top Brands and the Superbrands category rankings.

Reading a Branding and Marketing News Magazine, such as Brandweek, is important for those who work in the branding business. The content provided by Brandweek will allow readers to gain a solid understanding of how effective branding affects industry trends and much more. With a print subscription to Brandweek, you will receive all of the tips you need to stay on top of trends in brand development and more tools for more effective brand marketing strategies. Our exclusive Superbrands list details the largest media spenders, best brand strategies of the year and highlights those companies that optimized brand loyalty among consumers. Brandweek also honors the Marketer of the Year in our highly-anticipated special report. To help put things into perspective we encourage professionals developing brands, corporate branding strategies, and retail marketing strategies to post commentary and opinions on our news and feature editorials as well as our blog. Brandweek is proud to announce its Mobile service, for the branding and marketing professional on the go. Use your cell phone, PDA or Blackberry to gain instant access to the latest brand marketing news, trends and data in the industry. We know incorporating brand industry news into your everyday life is a must for industry professionals to stay innovative - so we make it possible to read Brandweek online, in print or on the go!