How the pandemic hit brand values in 2020

The global upheaval, lockdowns and closures have created winners and losers in the latest Australian and global brand value rankings

The Australian retail sector has now overtaken banking in overall brand value, accounting for 25 per cent of total brand value in the Brand Finance Australia 100 2021 ranking, according to the latest Brand Finance report.

Among Australian brands, Woolworths with a brand value of $12.6 billion is in the top position, while rival, Coles, sits at $7.9 billion in fourth position.

By comparison, the Australian banking sector has suffered an overall 11 per cent drop in brand value due to weaker performance forecasts and unfavourable financial conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the five banking brands in the top 10, only Macquarie has managed to keep a steady brand value year-on-year, while Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac all saw losses.

“Despite the precarious financial conditions created by the pandemic, the Australian retail sector has benefitted considerably from the boom in spending on essential items, while strong supermarket brands have been instrumental in driving up this brand value, the sector is not void of vulnerability to disruption, especially from tech-led challengers,” said Brand Finance Australia MD, Mark Crowe.

“It has been a difficult year for Australian banks, who certainly have acclimatised to being closely scrutinised over the last few years. With forecasts and a difficult economic situation ahead, banks will need to invest to sustain their improvement in customer sentiment, which will ultimately help drive future revenues."

And as increasing competition puts pressure on all telco brands, Telstra brand value dropped by 18 per cent to $9.5 billion, reaching its lowest point since 2014. The story is similar for Optus, which decreased by 19 per cent to $3.8 billion due to a drop in forecast revenue and external economic factors.

Overall, the total brand value for the top 100 most valuable Australian brands is down 9.2 per cent since the 2020 valuations, a decrease of $14.7 billion. The brand value in the top 100 ranking represents $144 billion of an estimated $294 billion of all brand value in Australia.

Apple top in global rankings

Apple has regained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, taking back the top spot from Amazon, according to the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking. It’s the first time since 2016 the computing giant has enjoyed the title after the success of its diversification strategy and an impressive 80 per cent brand value increase to $367.7 billion.

Under Tim Cook’s leadership, and particularly over the past five years, Apple has been developing its growth strategies beyond the iPhone which has seen the brand expand into digital and subscription services, including the App Store, iCloud, Apple Podcasts, Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Arcade.

Apple’s ability to reinvent itself time and time again is setting it apart from other hardware makers and has contributed to the brand becoming the first US company to reach a US$2 trillion market cap in August 2020, according to Brand Finance.

In a year of a global pandemic, the Brand Finance Global 500 has found technology and innovation have boosted brand values. Technology remains the most valuable sector in the Brand Finance Global 500, with 47 brands represented and a combined brand value of $1.4 trillion, and accounting for 14 per cent of total brand value in the 2021 ranking.

While Amazon may have been bumped to second position, the online retail giant still saw an 11 per cent growth in brand value to $354.9 billion, aided by the pandemic and the surge in online retail.

Aided by the increased demand for home deliveries and safe travel during the pandemic, Uber has seen a 29 per cent brand value jump to $28.6 billion and entered the top 100 at 82nd. Similarly, Meituan, China’s largest provider of on-demand online services has gone up by an impressive 56 per cent to $10.0 billion, resulting in one of the biggest hikes up the ranking, as it jumped 216 spots to 265th.

It was the same story with software providers such as Microsoft (up 16 per cent to $196.1 billion), SAP (up 5 per cent to $25.1 billion), Salesforce (up 24 per cent to $18.4 billion), Adobe (up 20 per cent to $16.3 billion), and a new entrant to the ranking, Servicenow (up 34 per cent to $6 billion), all enjoyed a boost in brand value as businesses raced to transition online and offices gave way to remote working for the greater part of last year.

“With the onset of the pandemic, tech brands have experienced unprecedented demand for their products and services,” said Brand Finance CEO, David Haigh.

"At the same time, across sectors, brands which have pushed the boundaries of technological innovation have remained a cut above the rest, able to pivot their business to adapt to consumers’ changing needs. 2021 is the final call to get on board for all brands still stuck in the 20th century."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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