Financial Giants Find Their Brands Rising With Economy's Tide

Annual Millward Brown BrandZ Ranking Finds Value for Top 100 Marketers Rose by 4% in 2009

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NEW YORK ( -- The value of financial institution brands took a battering in 2008, but they rebounded last year, according to a Millward Brown top 100 brand ranking, along with beer, technology and fast food.

The ranking, slated to be released tomorrow, found that the value of the top 100 brands rose by 4% in 2009 to more than $2 trillion. In part, the increase is due to the inclusion of oil and gas companies. But Eileen Campbell, global CEO of Millward Brown, points out that brands are more resilient than the economy, and their value is rebounding faster now that the recession is waning. In fact, the BrandZ Top 100 portfolio has grown 18.5% in the last five years, compared to a decline of 11.5% for the S&P 500.

Millward Brown Optimor compiles the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, which is commissioned by WPP; brand value is determined using interviews from more than a million consumers globally and an analysis of the financial and business performance of each company.

Financial institutions showed signs of rebounding, growing 12%, following an 11% drop in 2008. Brands like HSBC and Barclays, which passed on government loans, grew by 23% and 20%, respectively. The major credit card brands Visa and MasterCard also did well in 2009, as consumers used debit cards more during the recession in an effort to manage spending and debt. Brand value at Visa and MasterCard increased by more than 50%.

Beer, technology and fast food were the only other categories to see growth last year. More technology brands landed at the top of the top 100 than any other category. And, overall, the technology category grew by 6%. Google ranked as the world's most valuable brand, at $114.26 billion, up 14% from a year ago. IBM grew 30% to $86.38 billion, and Apple jumped 32% to $83.15 billion. Facebook also joined the technology sector, ranking for the first time.

Recession winners
The companies that maintained marketing spending are also finding that their brand values held up better, Ms. Campbell said. "I'm not talking about increasing spend, but still having the biggest share of voice and maintaining value," Ms. Campbell said. "Those brands look to be coming out of the recession at a more accelerated pace. If a brand maintained share of voice, it tended to do much better."

Elieen Campbell, global CEO of Millward Brown
Elieen Campbell, global CEO of Millward Brown
Predictably, the auto category saw the steepest decline, falling 15% on top of a 22% drop in 2009. Toyota, plagued by recalls, saw a drop of 27% to $21.77 billion, while Porsche saw a 31% decline to $12.02 billion. Other brands that suffered include Disney, falling 35% to $15 billion, Nokia, down 58% to $14.87 billion and Intel down 38% to $14.21 billion.

And while the beer category rose 10%, the pricier spirits category fell 3%. Bud Light and Budweiser were big winners, with brand value rising 22% and 18%, respectively. Imports didn't fare quite as well, however, with Heineken and Stella Artois seeing single-digit gains and Amstel falling 11% to $1.76 billion. Corona was the exception, rising 21% to $5.2 billion.

Looking ahead, Ms. Campbell believes strong brands such as Disney and Toyota will be able to bounce back. She also sees big growth for brands "playing smart" overseas, as well as homegrown overseas brands such as Baidu, the Chinese search engine. Baidu grew 62% last year to $9.36 billion.

For the first time, she pointed out, the top 100 includes brands from all of the BRIC countries, thanks to the addition of ICICI, India's largest bank. The first brand from Mexico, one of the so-called Next 11 countries, also made it onto the list.

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