You’ll notice a difference between Britain’s Biggest Brands this year and last: a lot of the brands are appreciably bigger.

It would be great to attribute this to stellar sales across the board; but the truth is we’ve changed the way we measure them. To reflect the growing number of brands looking to leverage their equity in new categories, brands are now valued at a cross-category, rather than category-specific, level. The result is perhaps the clearest picture ever painted of the true worth of the UK’s leading brands.

“It takes an adventurous spirit for a brand to grow”

Rob Brown, Special Reports Editor

Why does this matter? Against the backcloth of a new price war, with little or no growth, relentless promotions, increasing focus on own-label, a lack of funds for investment, and commoditisation through price-matching schemes, it’s not easy being one of Britain’s Biggest Brands. And over the following pages you’ll find examples of first-class stewardship; brands that, to continue with our pirate theme, have taken a more adventurous approach to discover growth.

For that, and their sheer size, they not only deserve praise, they warrant further examination.

None more so than Cadbury Dairy Milk. The naysayers argued that Mondelez would kill the brand. On the contrary, no brand has delivered more growth in the past year, worth £61.6m in incremental sales (no mean feat for a brand already worth half a billion pounds).

Key to its success has been NPD - innovation that has combined brands (Dairy Milk with Oreo is now worth £19.3m), and crossed over into unlikely new categories such as cream cheese. Indeed, as I write, a bag of sugar and chocolate confectionery - called Marvellous Mix-ups - has just been put under my nose. It’s inspired.

It’s proof that, in the right hands, new life can be breathed into even the oldest brands. In the case of Mondelez, it’s been able to do this partly because it has a number of brands that it can mash up. But as the likes of Warburtons and Kingsmill have proved, a brand can stand for so much more than just a category. A brand can be an idea, an attitude, a way of life. And that, me hearties, is worth celebrating and exploring.

See the complete list of Britain’s 100 Biggest Grocery Brands