For the first time since the inception of the Brand Finance Global 500 study, technology brands claim all top five places in the league table. Valued at over $150 billion, Amazon has become the world’s most valuable brand, followed by Apple ($146.3 billion) and Google ($120.9 billion). Samsung (4th, $92.3 billion) and Facebook (5th, $89.7 billion) both recorded impressive year-on-year brand value growth of 39% and 45% respectively, overtaking AT&T (6th, $82.4 billion). Google-owned YouTube more than doubled its brand value to $25.9 billion, jumping 70 places to 42nd.
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: “Jeff Bezos once said that ‘brands are more important online than they are in the physical world’. He has proved himself right by choosing the name Amazon, known as the largest, most powerful river in the world, as 23 years later the Amazon brand carries all before it as an unstoppable force. The strength and value of the Amazon brand gives it stakeholder permission to extend relentlessly into new sectors and geographies.”
With the advent of emerging world brands like Huawei, Apple’s increasing focus on what are effectively luxury products may cost the brand a fair share of the global mass market, limiting the potential for brand value growth, the report warns.
Five Middle Eastern brands feature in Brand Finance Global 500. Etisalat leads the pack(overall ranking: 217th), with a 40% increase to its brand value. The other Middle Eastern companies that made the mark include STC(253rd), and Emirates (329th).
The key growth drivers behind the US$7.7 billion brand value of the telecom operator include the launch of Etisalat’s “Smiles” loyalty programme and its app. Additionally, Etisalat has amplified the rollout of its smart “Customer Experience Centres” and renewed support for its global football sponsorships with further focus on its partnership with Manchester City Football Club. Andrew Campbell, MD of Brand Finance Middle East, said: “The UAE’s focus on digital innovation has helped support Etisalat brand’s success and paved the way for future growth ahead of Expo 2020. With its stated strategy of ‘Driving the Digital Future’, Etisalat has adapted to a new competitive marketplace dominated by the rise of tech giants”.
The latest report further highlights the narrowing of the gap between Chinese brands and their global counterparts. Alibaba (12th), Tencent (21st), WeChat (49th), Baidu (57th), JD (65th), and NetEase (121st) have gone up by an average of 67% year on year. State Grid, a state-owned utilities company from China, is the largest new entrant to the Brand Finance Global 500 this year, claiming 19th place with a brand value of $40.9 billion. In addition, the fastest-growing brand of 2018 also comes from China. The spirit industry champion Wuliangye grew a striking 161% to $14.6 billion year on year, rising 184 ranks to 100th.