The Brand Finance Global 500 is an annual study conducted by leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. The world’s biggest brands are put to the test and evaluated to determine which are the strongest and most valuable.
British Brands have had a successful year of growth, none more so than BT. BT’s Brand Value is up 70% to a total of US$15.3bn (£9.3bn). Its content focused strategy, investing huge sums in Rugby and in particular Premier League football to challenge Sky, appears to be paying off. Burberry, a brand that wears its Britishness on its sleeve, has also had a good year. Its brand value now stands at US$4.2bn (£2.5bn) following 22% growth despite the departure of visionary CEO Angela Ahrendts. Even the much maligned BBC has seen is brand value rise. The Beeb now controls a US$5bn (£3bn) brand thanks to the success of its commercial wing in exporting the programmes and formats developed by Britain’s exceptional creative talent. Mini is another top performer, rising 40% to US$4.2bn (£4.6bn), showing that British brands need not necessarily be British owned to be successful.
Tui Travel is not just Britain’s biggest leisure travel company, but the most valuable travel brand worldwide. The UK listed operator, which controls the Thomson and First Choice brands, has increased its value 25% to US$3.96bn (£2.4bn). With much of Britain underwater after weeks of rain, Tui Travel can look forward to further growth this year as families rush to escape to warmer (and dryer) climes.
New entries include EE. It has spent heavily on TV advertising and event sponsorship, including the BAFTAs, to help develop its US$5.3bn (£3.2bn) brand. Despite being formed from two of the UK’s big four telecoms operators, EE is a long way off catching Vodafone, which with its global reach is the UK’s most valuable brand, worth US$29.6bn (£17.9bn).
Royal Mail is another new entry following its market debut. Controversy surrounded the IPO, not just because of the privatization of a public asset. Assertions that the government had undervalued Royal Mail seem well founded. An impressive brand value of US$5.5bn (£3.3bn) means Royal Mail has one of the highest brand value to enterprise value ratios (50%), suggesting it could be still be undervalued even now. Brand Finance Chief Executive David Haigh comments, “Royal Mail is an iconic and much loved brand thanks in part to its connection to the Monarchy, which is itself one of Britain’s most valuable brands.”
Despite frequently scathing press coverage about bonus payments, rate fixing and IT glitches, many British banks brands have had a successful year. HSBC, the UK’s most valuable bank brand has grown by US$4bn (£2.4bn). RBS group brands have not fared so well though; NatWest and RBS itself are both down this year to a total of US$3.9bn (£2.4bn).
The supermarket brand battle continues apace. Tesco’s woes continue with brand value down US$259m (£157m), while ASDA is also down. Its total now stands at US$7.84bn (£4.7bn) following a US$20m (£12m) loss. Sainsbury’s on the other hand has grown 33% suggesting Justin King will leave the brand in good shape for successor Mike Coup. King has avoided the overexpansion that has afflicted Tesco, creating a more robust brand. While Tesco’s brand strength has been downgraded from AAA- to AA this year, Sainsbury’s has achieved the reverse, going from AA+ to AAA-. Morrisons meanwhile has taken action to address its shortcomings, developing an online shopping service and expanding its network of convenience stores. As a result, brand value is up over US$1bn (£0.6bn) to US$6.4bn (£3.9bn).