The 2014 edition of the Global 500 – a list of the most valuable brands in the world – has been released, and makes fascinating reading. It includes dozens of British brands – and reflects the varying fortunes of big businesses over the past year.
The power of technology branding
Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by heavyweight U.S-based brands, and shows just how dependent we all are on technology. In fact, nine of the ten most valuable brands are technology companies – led by Apple (its brand is worth over $100bn), Samsung, Google and Microsoft. Tellingly, 90% of the top ten are all US-based brands (Samsung is South Korean).
Communications companies also dominate the top 20 – with Verizon, AT&T, China Mobile, T Mobile and Vodafone all registering brand values of over $30bn.
The leading UK brands
The list also contains 36 brands which are based in, or associated with, the UK. Here we look at some of the major players, and how recent events have impacted on brand values.
The top two UK-based entries, Vodafone and HSBC, are major global players with brands worth over $25bn (according to the report’s authors).
Tesco dropped from 41st to 59th in the global list, following a year in which its global ambitions have been dented, and profitability at home has been called into question following a 2.4% drop in sales in the six months to January 2014.
BT, on the other hand, has risen from 110th to 70th on the list, following its successful entry into sports broadcasting. It has successfully challenged Sky’s dominance of the Premier League – with 2.5m people now using its online sports channels. BT’s pre-tax profits rose to over £615m in the final quarter of 2013, on revenues of £4.6m.
Interestingly, despite the growth in BT’s brand value, Sky remains the UK’s 7th most valuable brand – up from 160th to 146th place. Sky’s total revenues rose by over 6% during the second half of 2013, but pre-tax profits fell sharply – by 18%.
Burberry, a very ‘British’ brand has also had a very successful year, rising twenty places to 343 on the Global 500 list. The company’s revenues broke through the £1bn barrier for the first time in 2013, and like-for-like sales rose by 12% during the final quarter of the year.
Following its controversial stock market floatation last year, Royal Mail makes a surprising entry at 236 with a brand value of $5.5bn – suggesting, once again, that the Government may well have undervalued a prized asset.
Commenting on the company’s new entry, David Haigh from Brand Finance said: “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.”
Finally, EE enters the Global 500 list at No.242, just behind Royal Mail. The joint-venture by Orange and T-Mobile was originally known as ‘Everything Everywhere’, but spend a massive sum on re-branding following its relaunch in October 2012.
You can access the Global 500 here (you can create filters to find the top brands by country).