The breakthrough brands of 2016

Interbrand Breakthrough Brands

For nearly two decades, the Best Global Brands report has been the benchmark for the world’s brands of the year. These are the companies that are household names, prevalent around the world, crossing cultural boundaries to deliver products and services in the global market. Among the ranks in the top 10 are Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, GE… you get the idea. Last year, for the first time — in addition to the Best Global Brands report — Interbrand published a new report to establish a platform recognizing the next generation of brands: Breakthrough Brands.

Breakthrough Brands are agile and fast-moving, staying ahead of shifts in society, culture, and behaviors, and delivering innovative products and services. For these brands, people come first. Their core purpose is at the center of everything they do, from product design to branding, marketing, and experience. It’s this commitment to experience that has pushed them from their status as startups to up-and-coming businesses that have entered the market, broken it, and changed it.

There are many brands on the list in the report, some of which you will surely recognize, others of which are less known. The list below includes the brands in the retail space — creating experiences offline and online — who will be worth watching in 2017 as they continue to break norms.



Away is first class luggage at a coach price. Founded by two former Warby Parker employees in 2015, they’ve developed a line of luggage for today’s traveler, with personalized monogramming and built-in USB charger.



Casper has created an obsessively engineered mattress at a shockingly fair price. The brand delivers their flagship product, the mattress, through innovative fulfillment and, in addition to its own showrooms, has partnered with West Elm to create a physical shopping experience.



Shinola is a provider of luxury goods that are proudly made in America. Their strong messaging of handmade products with true craftsmanship, alongside its heritage and history rooted in Detroit, has made this brand especially relevant in a market where consumers are looking for authenticity.



Valued at $16 billion, WeWork has been the leading brand in coworking (and now co-living) space that’s been a disruptor (I had to bring in this buzzword somewhere) for the changing landscape of workplace. Established in 2010, they’ve since opened dozens of locations around the world, including four in the Boston area, and serve as a platform for innovative ideas coming from small entrepreneurial companies.



If you don’t know Sweetgreen, you’ve been living under a rock, or maybe, under some lettuce. They are a brand with a very clear purpose: to bring locally-sourced, healthy food to market. If the market continues to demand local and sustainable food choices, Sweetgreen will continue to grow. Check them out for yourself.



I’m grouping these last two brands together for their similarities in the space. Zady and Everlane are both online fashion and lifestyle retailers working to set new standards for supply chain transparency, social consciousness, cost clarity, and environmental best practices into the fabric of their brands. These brands epitomize the demand on honesty and transparency for the next generation of goods.

Do you have an experience with any of these brands worth sharing? What makes them so special? Where do you see their growth?

Have you noticed other exceptional brands — breaking through the noise — that are worth watching in 2017?

To read the full report and get more insight on breakthrough brands, visit Interbrand Breakthrough Brands 2016.

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