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The World's Top Brands

License! Global looks at the world's most powerful brands—valued at almost $2 trillion—from this year's Brand Z study by Millward Brown Optimor. Value, vice, home fun and technology are th

April 6, 2018

5 Min Read

License! Global looks at the world's most powerful brands—valued at almost $2 trillion—from this year's Brand Z study by Millward Brown Optimor.

Value, vice, home fun and technology are the key themes in this year's influential top 100 most valuable brands, compiled by WPP's Millward Brown Optimor. i1_599.jpgi1_t_126.jpg

Based on its own Brand Z consumer research and financial study using Bloomberg and Datamonitor, the ranking values the 100 brands at $1.95 trillion, up 1.7 percent on the 2008 figure.

Google is the first $100-billion brand, with a brand value increase of 16 percent from last year. It remains in the No. 1 spot for the third year running, with an ever-widening gap between it and the No. 2 brand, Microsoft, valued at $76 billion.

Regarding the brands in the study, of which there are 15 new entries, Millward Brown Optimor associate director Christiana Pearson says: "The ranking illustrates that when brands continue to invest in a downturn, things turn out better for them."

The Brand Z brand equity study, which looks at the consumer facing aspects of brand value, has been running for 11 years with MBO ranking the top 100 most valuable brands since 2006. In addition to the overall top 100, Millward Brown Optimor breaks down brands researched into 17 different categories, plus regional rankings and cross cutting indicators, for example the top risers and newcomers.

Financial businesses did less well than in previous years. But Pearson points out: "Even in a tough business environment, a brand can uphold itself. And the biggest growing brand on the list is China Merchants Bank, up in brand value by 168 percent. It focuses on customer service, online banking and offers a credit card—all new services in China. Other big risers in the financial sector come from non-traditional banking countries: Brazil, China and Canada." i2_301.jpgi2_t_129.jpg

Themes that emerged in the ranking are perceived value; vice, which is all about treats; being at home; and technology.

Value brands did well, for example: Aldi is a new entry at No. 74 with an increase in brand value of 49 percent; Auchan jumped to No. 65 with an increase in brand value of 48 percent, and H&M is up eight spots to No. 58 with brand value up by 8 percent. Vice includes fast food brands, for example: KFC is one of the new entries ranked at 94 with brand value up 10 percent, and McDonald's brand value is up 34 percent; in cigarettes, for example, Marlboro is up in value by 33 percent; and alcohol, Budweiser is up 23 percent in brand value, and Johnnie Walker is up 42 percent. i3_190.jpgi3_t_78.jpg

The final themes crossover, with at-home and technology brands both making robust showings in the rankings as consumers go out less and spend more on entertainment in their homes. The at-home theme covers brands such as home shopping names Amazon, up 35 places to rank 26 with an increase in brand value of 85 percent and eBay up 11 places to rank 54 with a brand value increase of 16 percent. In personal care, for example, Nivea is a new entry at 96 with brand value up 24 percent, and Colgate is up 15 places to rank 56 with brand value up 17 percent. In gaming, Nintendo is a new entry ranked at 32, highlighting family play. i4_145.jpgi4_t_56.jpg

In technology, BlackBerry is up 35 places to rank 16 with a 100 percent increase in brand value, and the mobile operator category overall is up by 28 percent in value. i5_114.jpgi5_t_40.jpg

The luxury brand category ranking, which includes luxury champagnes, is up 3 percent in value on the previous year. Pearson points out that the new "secret sales" phenomenon has kept luxury brands increasing value despite the recession. Pearson says: "More male products and an increasing reliance on accessories is keeping luxury brands to the fore, but it is the more conservative brands that are doing better than the 'out there' brands as quality, reliability and long lastingness become more important." Rolex, which did not make it into the top 100 ranking, was nonetheless up by 38 percent in value, and had record sales in 2008.

In the retail category, food was up 5 percent in value with discount retailers doing well. Pearson says: "The key focus is trading down and expanding non-food offers. Home shopping is up and value is up. The story follows the recession theme." i6_80.jpgi6_t_19.jpg

This year's new entries are an eclectic bunch of brands with a commonality, in that they fit across the umbrella themes. Ranked in order, Pampers is the highest new entry followed by Nintendo, Visa, TD, Wrigley's, DHL, Beeline, Aldi, O2, Red Bull, China Merchants Bank, KFC, Nivea, Bradesco and Lowe's. i7_63.jpgi7_t_27.jpg

Of this year's crop of brands, Pearson says: "This year we've learned that even in bad times brands can uphold their value and that the use of word of mouth, including blogging, helps brands. For example, Google is the top-valued brand with no advertising or conventional marketing. And certain categories—notably apparel, retail and drinks—are more prone to consumers trading down than others. i8_43.jpgi8_t_13.jpg

"Looking at the newcomers, there are some big brands from categories that you wouldn't have expected, but at the same time, the listing proves that people are not prepared to give up on the brands that are important to them." i9_39.jpgi9_t_17.jpg

1 The brand value of Coca-Cola includes Diet Coke, Coke Light and Coke Zero

2 The brand value of Pepsi includes Diet Pepsi and Pepsi

* Restated to reflect additional data inputs, ranking change therefore not comparable

3 Budweiser's value includes Bud Light and Bud

4 ING value includes ING Bank and ING Insurance

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