Everyone interprets business growth differently.
While some companies look at it based on how much money they’re making and what their year-over-year profit percentages look like, it can be so much more than that.
Many Fortune 500 companies actually embrace qualities that have nothing to do with revenue to determine if they’re experiencing positive growth.
If you want to learn from the big companies, keep reading! Here, you will see:
What is Business Growth
Business growth is what allows a business to continue forward year after year. While it certainly takes positive profits to stay open, it is so much more than that.
Once upon a time, corporations were focused to look solely at profits to determine their growth. Human and physical resources were simply pushed to the limits to ensure that the profits were achieved.
Now, we’re in a world where people talk. It’s easy to see how one business is more successful than another because of its captivated audience, its happy customers, or how well it is supporting different causes.
Society matters. The planet matters.
When social and environmental issues are addressed publicly by a company, it can help with their profits. It ensures that, even when the economy isn’t thriving, the companies maintain their lead.
Long-term sustainability requires unique business strategies. It ensures that the customers are always there. It ensures that a business is around for decades instead of achieving short-term growth for a few years only to slowly drift away into oblivion.
9 Fortune 500 Brands Achieving Growth
While plenty of Fortune 500 brands choose to achieve (and calculate) growth in different ways, these ones are prime examples that prove being the biggest isn’t always what matters.
Apple is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology. They have worked hard to establish brand value.
It allows them to introduce the latest technology with a high price tag without scaring customers away.
Instead, it goes to the opposite spectrum where people are lining up to spend the money because they trust that the value will be there.
One of the ways Apple has grown is to focus its identity beyond the iPhone.
As a result, it has established a lot of brand value growth — and was recently given the title of “world’s most valuable brand.” This is a title it’s been chasing since it was lost in 2016.
Alphabet, the parent company for Google, has proven that it is growing by being the best company it can be.
They receive a significant number of awards for being a leader in environmental and energy improvements.
Alphabet believes in striving to do meaningful things with its resources. They have made the claim that Google is not a conventional company, so they don’t intend to become one.
They work to use technology to help people with such free products as Google Maps, Chrome, and more.
Through these free services, they’re focusing on improving society, not boosting their revenue. They know that revenue comes after they’ve paid their dues at making a difference.
3. Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems has proved that with happy employees comes innovation and the desire to strive toward being the best.
They have leading network and security solutions and have worked with some of the top companies around the globe.
Cisco Systems is continuously identified as one of the best places to work — and they recently acquired the number 1 spot in the Fortune, Inc. list.
Cisco maintains corporate social responsibility. They also spend a lot of time fostering a healthy workplace culture.
They have a global workforce and, according to surveys, employees are proud to work for the organization. Safety and inclusion speak volumes for the health of a company — and it’s clearly a driving force for the success that the company experiences, too.
Coca-Cola knows that they have the allegiance of Cola drinkers everywhere.
Although there are other name-brand options and countless generic options to go up against, they continue to market themselves to ensure that people know about all of the good that is being done.
Coca-Cola stopped advertising its drinks a long time ago. Now, they focus more on “Refresh the World” and “Make a Difference.”
They are guided by a purpose to be a loved brand, work sustainably, and push toward a better, shared future.
Their objectives aren’t focused solely on revenue — they look to win more consumers and equip the organization to win.
Disney is a prime example of diversifying. They’ve managed to place their business revenues into the hands of various ventures — theme parks, movies, merchandise, TV, and so much more.
While the company is always focused on growth, it’s not always about revenue. It’s about penetrating the market in every way possible.
As a result of market penetration, the Disney name isn’t just on cartoon movies anymore.
They’ve become innovative — and a quick glance at the programs on the Disney app proves that they’re behind Star Wars, Marvel, ABC, and much more.
Disney measures growth based on not only revenues but competitive advantages and how well they’re embracing global trends.
With parks in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, they have to pay attention to the cultures, and they’ve developed products that people of all ages and backgrounds gravitate toward.
It’s what helps to create the die-hard Disney fans seen around the globe, and why so many people will visit the parks no matter what.
Comcast is a cable giant, but growth isn’t always positive for them — financially speaking.
They grow based on market penetration. Their goal is to get cable and internet into the homes of more people around the United States.
While they make money by providing these services, they’re also committed to introducing low-income communities to the internet so that they can benefit from the various web-based technologies that are available.
Comcast isn’t just a leader in providing services. They also have relationships with providers and channels and stations.
They use all of this to fight for social justice and ensure that they push toward more inclusivity. They’ve allocated millions to fight injustice and inequality — and their commitment to such deeds speaks volumes to communities.
It allows people to see Comcast in a positive light and for employees to be proud of the company they work for.
Adobe started out in 1982 to help with media creation. Since that time, they have continued to evolve with the latest and greatest technology.
They have learned to cater to companies and to individuals. They’ve seen a significant amount of success with the products, they’ve launched, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, and more.
In a world where so many people look for free and open-source programs to use to save money, Adobe continues to see a rise in revenue. Much of this has to do with their expansion into the cloud and acquisitions.
They are also based firmly in reality, knowing that they have competition with those who want premium services for free or for reduced costs.
As such, they create various versions of their software to ensure they can meet the need for premium graphic tools across all levels.
Their move to SaaS has allowed for more subscriptions and, therefore, higher revenues.
Adobe understands the trends and evolves. They embrace social media, including YouTube and TikTok as opposed to trying to compete against it.
By recognizing this, they focus on the needs of the consumer and allow revenue to follow rather than being driven entirely by profit-based decisions.
Nike has been around for decades and has grown into more than just a store that sells shoes.
They are an entire athletic brand that understands what motivates athletes and promotes their success stories as their own.
Nike has achieved a significant amount of growth in the past few years because of its social responsibility efforts. They use sports as a way to create an inclusive culture while breaking down the various barriers.
The inclusive culture that Nike focuses on has allowed them to become vocal in the various cultural arguments. They’ve become social justice warriors to demand inclusivity based on gender, race, and more.
Starbucks is a longstanding member of Fortune 500 companies. While their revenues often grow, their profits do not.
They impress because of their commitment to trends as well as their commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing.
Each year, they release new frappuccinos that set the world on fire with hashtags and a social campaign of everyone sharing their own cups.
The unicorn, the pumpkin spice, and the many other seasonal flavors go on and on. Of course, the most tuned-in of customers will also whisper about the “secret” menu that every Starbucks maintains.
It’s not just flavors, though. They impress because of their sustainability.
They have a story that talks about The Starbucks Difference, embracing ethical sourcing from the very beginning.
Starbucks also embraces a unique blending and roasting process. And they care about the communities that they thrive in, which means that people will continue to wait in line for Starbucks.
In a world where so many people want to support local, Starbucks continues to grow because of their narrative — and because they continue to follow the trends to give consumers what they want the most.
The Benefits of Looking Beyond Revenue
When you can prove your worth as a company, your customers sustain you no matter what happens. Real and true customers have fierce brand loyalty.
While there may be a fiduciary duty to your shareholders to produce a profit, you have to care about more than just sales.
Care about your employees, your customers, and the planet.
There are growth strategies that allow you to focus on revenue along with sustainability.
The Ansoff Matrix is used to help plan growth strategies. It doesn’t focus solely on marketing efforts to boost revenue. Instead, it explores four strategies that help with the overall growth of a company:
- Market penetration: The strategy of increasing sales with existing products in an existing market.
- Product development: The strategy of creating new products to introduce into an existing market.
- Market development: The strategy of using existing products in a new market.
- Diversification: The strategy of entering a new market with new products.
Many of the Fortune 500 companies are successful because they’re using these strategies and managing the risks involved with each.
Market penetration is the lowest risk and one that most companies use more frequently. Those that really want to push the envelope will use diversification as it is risky but can have a great payoff.
Disney is a great example of how they’ve used diversification because they have branched out into non-cartoon characters to attract new audiences with new products.
When you can look beyond revenue, you can create a company that you’re proud of. You can create a company that others are proud of. And you can lead by example.
With the examples from the Fortune 500 company, you can see that true growth is defined by so much more than their revenues, their profits, and the percent of change from year to year.
While it can seem impossible to focus on anything beyond revenue, it is possible by creating a story that people cannot ignore.
And one of the ways for you to do this is by building your brand narrative. See how to do it in our guide!