UK Most Valuable Brands. Photo: KnowInsiders
UK Most Valuable Brands. Photo: KnowInsiders

According to the newly released Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands 2021 report, the company which boasts the largest value backing up its brand in the UK is with Vodafone with an estimated $30.91 billion. Put in a wider context, the world's most valuable brand in 2021 named by BrandZ was Amazon at $684 billion. Globally, Vodafone is ranked 60th.

Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands 2021: The change

Kantar BrandZ’s Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands 2021 have grown 22% in value since 2020, with an overall brand value totalling $278.8 billion. This is a higher combined value than the leading brands had even before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

The fastest risers and new entrants in this year’s ranking reflect lifestyle habits adopted during the pandemic. The four brands which grew the quickest in the past 12 months were all delivery specialists: Royal Mail (no.52, $1.4bn, +83%), Ocado (no.13, $5.7bn, +72%), ASOS (no.27, $2.8bn, +65%) and Deliveroo (no.25, $3.0bn, +58%). Following its merger in 2020, Just Eat features at number 11 in this year’s ranking, with a brand value of $6.5 billion. Media and entertainment providers fared well too, with the Premier League gaining its inaugural inclusion in the top 75 – valued at $5.4 billion.

Photo: statista
Photo: statista

While the top UK brands have far outpaced the rate of economic growth predicted for the UK in 2021 (8%), they still face a monumental challenge. Even with this level of growth, the UK’s leading brands are falling behind the most valuable brands in the world.

Martin Guerrieria, global head of research at BrandZ, suggests this indicates “genuine green shoots of growth”, not just a rebound to the declines experienced last year.

“The FTSE still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic and yet the UK brands with stronger brand equity have surpassed their prior pandemic levels. It shows that in the UK specifically, brand equity is certainly a worthwhile investment to make. We know it works. Those with better consumer relationships ultimately perform better and are better protected.”

He says it demonstrates that “brand is becoming increasingly important as a value driver”, which presents a huge opportunity for marketers.

“It certainly feels like the marketing department, brand and insights teams have more opportunity than ever to actually add value to their businesses,” he says. But he warns it’s crucial to maintain investment, measure the impact of that investment, identify the right KPIs and measure progress against them.

Strong brands recover faster

The data shows brands that had been investing in marketing and establishing “meaningful connections” prior to the pandemic hitting were in a better position in terms of recovery.

“That’s a really key point,” Guerrieria says. “What we’ve seen by looking across the breadth of the BrandZ database, not just the UK but other markets, is that actually if we look at the brands that have grown since the pandemic began versus those that haven’t, in terms of their comparative strength of equity, those that have grown were more meaningfully different to begin with.

“It suggests those brands and businesses that invested in their marketing efforts, in boosting brand equity, in boosting their relationships with consumers in advance of the pandemic, has stood them in good stead.”

Photo: marketingweek
Photo: marketingweek

While Vodafone ($30.9bn), HSBC ($15.6bn) and Shell ($15.4bn) retain their positions in the top three spots for 2021, Tesco ($11.3bn) has leapfrogged four brands to jump into 4th place, after seeing its brand value rise 33% over the past year.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of Lipton ($10.7bn), Sky ($10.6bn), BP ($10.5bn), BT (£10.5bn), Johnnie Walker ($8.3bn) and Dove ($7.3bn).

“There’s no doubt that in our global top 100 we are seeing fewer UK brands present – Vodafone is now the sole UK brand represented in the global list,” Guerrieria says. “But that’s not to say it has been an unmitigated disaster. A lot of that is because the pace of the global top 100 has seen real acceleration this year, and partly why we’re framing this as a big opportunity for brand building.”

Fastest risers

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the upheaval of the past 18 months, this year’s fastest risers are in necessity categories like logistics, online delivery and apparel.

Royal Mail’s brand value has increased by 83% pushing it to 52 in the ranking and making it the UK’s fastest riser this year. Ocado is not far behind, rising 72% to 13, followed by Asos (up 65% to 27) and Deliveroo (up 57% to 25).

There has also been a rise in brands that offer some form of entertainment or release for people. Gambling brands, for example, which can “be an escape for some people”, saw a big boost. Betfair’s brand value increased by 45%, putting it at 53 in the ranking, while William Hill is now at 51 having increased its brand value by 41%. Both are among the top 10 fastest risers for 2021.

Meanwhile, Sky Bet has entered the ranking for the first time, jumping straight in at 28. The Premier League is another new entry, joining the ranking at 15.

Elsewhere, reflecting the changing needs of consumers over the course of the pandemic and the fact money has been tight for many, budget retailers have also seen a boost. JD Sports (63), which Kantar classes in this category, and B&M Bargains (70) join the top 75 for the first time.

Greggs is another new entry for 2021, joining the ranking at 71. The brand had been steadily gaining ground ahead of the pandemic, with Greggs praising marketing’s “key role” in increasing profits in March 2020.

Photo: marketingweek
Photo: marketingweek

But this momentum was severely impacted when Covid struck. Greggs posted a 30.5% drop in sales to £811.3m in 2020, resulting in its first ever pre-tax loss of £13.7m, a significant decline from the £108.3m profit it made in 2019.

However, the bakery chain underlined the important role marketing plays when it revealed its annual results this March, as it outlined plans to increase focus on digital innovations, customer loyalty and product development.

Guerrieria says Greggs is a great example of a brand that has innovated and adapted to customers’ changing needs, while also improving its advertising in terms of perceived strength. In 2017 its advertising had a score of 97 (below average), but this increased to 103 in 2020.

“We have 100 as an average and Greggs is now seen as better than the average UK brand in terms of the quality of its content,” he explains. “So yes it is spending, but it is spending in areas that are high quality and communicating the things it knows work for its target audience, like convenience and range. It talks about those things in its comms, and its digital comms are very strong as well.

“Plus it has a CEO who is actively talking about the role marketing has played in the journey and the commitment to keeping that spend at a relatively high level going forward.”

This focus is already bearing fruit for Greggs, which reported a strong recovery in the first half following the reopening of non-essential retail in April, with the second quarter of 2021 “exceeding expectations” by delivering like-for-like sales growth compared to the same period in 2019.

Total sales for the first six months of the year reached £546m, driving an underlying pre-tax profit of £55.5m. Greggs says it now expects full-year profit to be “slightly” ahead of previous expectations, leading its share price to reach an all-time high in July.

Photo: marketingweek
Photo: marketingweek

Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands

The total value of the 2021 Kantar BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands has grown by 42%, to reach record-setting new heights of over $7 trillion. The accelerated growth of the world’s most valuable brands reflects an impressive rebound from the economic toll of the global pandemic.

Amazon maintained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, growing 64% to US$684bn. Having first entered the ranking in 2006, Amazon’s brand value grew by almost $268bn this year. It became the first half-a-trillion-dollar brand, alongside Apple, at number 2, valued at $612bn.

At number 47, Tesla is the fastest growing brand and it has become the most valuable car brand, growing its value by 275% to $43bn. It has more than doubled its value, alongside Chinese brands: Moutai (no.11, $109bn), Meituan (no.34, $52bn), TikTok (no.45, $44bn) and Pinduoduo (no.81, $22bn).

13 new entrants joined the 2021 global ranking, including Nvidia (no.12, $105bn), Zoom (no.52, $37bn), AMD (no.57, $33bn) and Spotify (no.99, $19bn).

“BrandZ-One of the most popular rankings of the world’s most valuable brands

BrandZ, similarly to Interbrand, uses a so-called “income split method” to estimate the value of a brand. The initial process looks similar as it is about analysing the brand’s profits and estimating future profits. What happens next is what differentiates BrandZ’s ranking. While Interbrand relies heavily on its analysts’ expertise and their ability to estimate the role and the strength of the brand, BrandZ uses for that a huge consumer panel, that is three million people in 50 countries. The factors analysed in the research include: meaningfulness of the brand, its uniqueness and salience.

The biggest advantage: consumers’ perspective taken into account.

This is the only ranking that uses real consumer data to estimate the role of the brand in the purchasing decision, rather than opinions of industry experts.

How its transparency could be improved?

We still don’t know how being meaningful, different and salient can be translated into financial metrics. This needs clarification.

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