Ranking The World’s Most Valuable Brands
Due to its intangible nature, the power of a brand can be difficult to translate to a balance sheet. That said, a brand that truly connects with consumers and stands the test of time can deliver immense financial value.
Today’s graphic pulls data from the 2020 edition of Brand Finance’s annual Global 500 report, which ranks the world’s top brands by value using a multi-dimensional formula.
By quantifying the true value of a brand, investors and key decision makers can identify value that extends beyond quarterly earnings reports.
How much are brands really worth?
A Closer Look at the Leaderboard
With 18% growth in the last year resulting in an eye-watering brand value of $220 billion, Amazon is a clear winner as the world’s most valuable brand—towering over Google and Apple’s brand valuations. As the largest online marketplace on the planet, Amazon relies on innovative technologies and investments in fast-growing sectors, such as healthcare, to create a diverse retail ecosystem.
Although tech companies command five of the top 10 spots in the ranking, brands from more traditional industries are hot on their tails.
Here are the top 100 most valuable brands according to the report:
|Ranking||Brand||2020 Brand Value||YoY % Change||Country||Sector|
|#13||China Construction Bank||$62B||-10.2%||China||Banking|
|#18||Agricultural Bank of China||$55B||-0.7%||China||Banking|
|#20||Bank of China||$51B||-0.7%||China||Banking|
|#21||The Home Depot||$50B||7.3%||United States||Retail|
|#23||Shell||$47B||12.4%||Netherlands||Oil & Gas|
|#24||Saudi Aramco||$47B||N/A||Saudi Arabia||Oil & Gas|
|#29||Wells Fargo||$41B||2.3%||United States||Banking|
|#33||PetroChina||$38B||3.3%||China||Oil & Gas|
|#34||Coca-Cola||$38B||4.8%||United States||Soft Drinks|
|#39||Bank of America||$35B||-3.6%||United States||Banking|
|#42||Sinopec||$33B||14.7%||China||Oil & Gas|
|#47||Deloitte||$32B||9.6%||United States||Commercial Services|
|#51||American Express||$29B||6.2%||United States||Commercial Services|
|#53||United Healthcare||$28B||-7.4%||United States||Healthcare|
|#54||Sumitomo Group||$28B||4.5%||Japan||Mining, Iron & Steel|
|#56||VISA||$27B||-3%||United States||Commercial Services|
|#59||Accenture||$25B||-3.8%||United States||IT Services|
|#61||CSCEC||$25B||-3.3%||China||Engineering & Construction|
|#62||PWC||$25B||-0.3%||United States||Commercial Services|
|#64||Mitsui||$24B||15.8%||Japan||Mining, Iron & Steel|
|#65||General Electric||$24B||-14.4%||United States||Engineering & Construction|
|#66||EY||$24B||2.1%||United Kingdom||Commercial Services|
|#69||BP||$23B||2.6%||United Kingdom||Oil & Gas|
|#71||Total||$23B||8.1%||France||Oil & Gas|
|#74||China Merchants Bank||$23B||1.8%||China||Banking|
|#75||JP Morgan||$23B||15.3%||United States||Banking|
|#76||Boeing||$23B||-29%||United States||Aerospace & Defence|
|#78||SK Group||$22B||-17.5%||South Korea||Telecoms|
|#82||Hyundai Group||$21B||-2.8%||South Korea||Automobiles|
|#84||Siemens||$21B||-7.2%||Germany||Engineering & Construction|
|#85||TATA Group||$21B||2.3%||India||Engineering & Construction|
|#86||Mastercard||$21B||8.4%||United States||Commercial Services|
|#87||Bosch||$20B||-14.6%||Germany||Engineering & Construction|
|#92||Pepsi||$19B||2.2%||United States||Soft Drinks|
|#98||Chevron||$18B||4.7%||United States||Oil & Gas|
|#100||Dell Technologies||$18B||-22.9%||United States||Tech|
American retail giant Walmart enters 2020’s top 10 ranking with an impressive brand value increase of 14% to $77.5 billion. The retailer’s recent success could be partially attributed to its growing strategic partnership with Microsoft—which currently sits in sixth place. By tapping into Microsoft’s cloud services, Walmart can now provide a digital first retail experience for its customers.
Another brand that has experienced remarkable growth is China’s leading insurance company, Ping An. With 19.8% growth, resulting in a brand value of $69 billion, the financial conglomerate’s aggressive focus on fintech R&D has garnered the company 200 million retail customers and 500 million internet users—making it one of the largest financial services companies in the world.
While the majority of the world’s most valuable brands hail from the U.S. or China, which brands lead by region?
Most Valuable Brands by Region
Not surprisingly, Amazon leads as the most valuable B2C brand across the Americas, with the exception of Latin America. Beer brand Corona, was crowned as the leader in this region, boasting a brand value of $8.1 billion.
In Europe, German companies outperformed other countries, with automotive brand Mercedes-Benz holding the title for the most valuable B2C brand for that continent—despite China being its biggest market.
On the other side of the world, Samsung reigns as Asia’s most valuable B2C brand. The company owns 54% of the nascent 5G market globally, having shipped 6.7 million 5G phones in the last year alone.
A Brand Eat Brand World
Whether brands are regional or global leaders, they still face the threat of being knocked of their perch by brands experiencing significant growth.
Climbing to the Top
With an increase of 65% to $12.4 billion, Tesla is officially the fastest-growing brand in the world. Despite concerns over not being able to keep up with demand, the electric car company is expected to exceed 500,000 vehicle deliveries in 2020. Having recently posted over $7 billion of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019, the success of Tesla’s innovative models is sure to rattle the automotive brands in the ranking.
However, not everything comes down to innovation. European retailers Lidl and Aldi have seen growth of 40% and 37% respectively, and are only getting started.
After disrupting Europe’s entire supermarket industry by offering quality products at significantly lower prices, the chains now have their sights set on the U.S. market, with Aldi expected to surpass Kroger in sales.
Despite the unprecedented disruption caused by e-commerce, the popular assertion that entering digital operations brings instant success while bricks and mortar stores are doomed for extinction is being proved wrong
—David Haigh, CEO Brand Finance
In contrast, there are also well established brands that have struggled to retain brand value.
Racing to the Bottom
Chinese search engine Baidu—also known as the Google of China—recorded the largest drop in brand value, decreasing by 54% to $8.9 billion. The brand has struggled with a poor reputation and intensifying market competition. As a result, the brand’s revenues and subsequently its brand value were heavily impacted.
Boeing is a prime example of the unpredictability of brand value. As a company that once imbued trust and excellent safety standards, the brand’s value has dropped by 29% due to the recent reports of accidents that have tarnished its reputation.
The True Power of Brand
Boeing’s recent hardships reflect the volatile nature of brand value. While 244 brands in the entire ranking have increased their brand value year-over-year, another 212 have taken a hit.
Part of a brand’s purpose is to manage reputation, retain loyal customers, and generate awareness. Given that a brand is the sum of its parts, the ranking proves that an issue with any of these things could trigger a chain reaction, negatively impacting a brand’s bottom line.
So is it worth companies investing in their brand? All signs point to yes, for now.
Visualized: The Power of a Sustainable Investment Dollar
Do sustainable investments make a difference? From carbon emissions to board diversity, we break down their impact across three industries.
Visualizing the Power of a Sustainable Investment Dollar
Sustainable investments are booming.
Between January and November 2020 alone, investments in sustainable ETF and mutual funds grew 96%. The UN Principles of Responsible Investment now has over 3,000 signatories representing over $100 trillion in assets. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission established a Climate Risk Unit to analyze climate risk across derivative markets, and as of March 2021, new sustainability disclosures have come into effect in Europe.
But how do we know if sustainable investments have made a difference?
To answer this question, the above infographic from MSCI examines the effect of a sustainable investment dollar by looking at real-world examples.
A Sustainable vs. Unsustainable Dollar
To start, investing legend Benjamin Graham has compared the stock market to a “voting machine.” Just as consumers vote with their purchasing decisions, investors vote with their investment dollars. Especially in the short term, as more dollars flow to sustainable companies, this builds their exposure and access to capital.
In the long term, meanwhile, the market can be compared to a weighing machine. The market recognizes companies with profitable business models that improve their intrinsic value over time. Ultimately, this allows sustainable companies to expand and continue operating.
Given the rising momentum in both green assets and climate targets, here is how investment dollars have influenced and driven change across three industries.
1. Clean Energy vs. Fossil Fuel
Over the last several years, the energy sector has been associated with many of the problems causing climate change. For this reason, many investors are seeking out greener energy alternatives. But how does moving investment dollars from an ESG laggard to an ESG leader support the environment and society?
First, here is a brief explainer of ESG laggards and leaders:
- ESG laggards: companies with the weakest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in their sector.
- ESG leaders: companies with the strongest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in their sector.
|Industry laggard: U.S. oil & gas company||Industry leader: U.S. utilities company|
|Scale of carbon-intensive business lines equal to 73% of its operation||47% lower CO2 emissions than the industry average|
|This is the equivalent of adding 26 million cars on the road annually||This is the equivalent of removing 9.9 million cars off the road annually|
|1 of 20 oil and gas companies are responsible for contributing to one third of GHG emissions since 1965||Uses 3X as many renewable sources than industry average|
|3X fewer jobs are created vs. energy efficient sector, resulting in lower productivity||This is roughly the same as saving over 9 million pounds of coal burned|
|MSCI ESG Rating: CCC||MSCI ESG Rating: AAA|
Source: MSCI ESG Research
Based on the above example, investors have the ability to finance powerful green initiatives that reduce emissions by almost half, relative to their peers.
2. Safe vs. Unsafe Working Conditions
Weak safety protocols are a key sustainability issue for the industrial sector. Here’s how two companies compare:
|Industry laggard: South African mining company||Industry leader: U.S. mining company|
|11 fatalities in 2019||Zero fatalities in 2019|
|Faced lawsuits from miners surrounding lung diseases contracted from dust exposure in gold mines|
Settlement cost: $350 million
|Board-level oversight monitors health and safety performance|
|Lags behind peers in high incident rates||Leads peers in low incident rates|
|Lags behind peers in setting incident reduction targets||Leads industry in lost time incident rate & total recordable injury rate|
|MSCI ESG Rating: CCC||MSCI ESG Rating: A|
Source: MSCI ESG Research
Despite the risks involved in the sector, investors can choose to support companies that take greater precautions to protect their workers.
3. Building Trust vs. Losing Trust
Over the last several years, the financial sector has faced increased scrutiny over fraudulent activities. Moving investment dollars from an ESG laggard to ESG leader may make a difference:
|Industry laggard: U.S. bank||Industry leader: Dutch bank|
|$3 billion settlement in creating fictitious accounts to meet aggressive sales targets||Sustainable finance portfolio valued at over $20 billion|
|Drop in top-tier bank ratings||13% annual increase in climate finance|
|Board effectiveness questioned||Includes over 60 green loans, mobilizing environmentally friendly projects|
|Resignation of board members||Over 55% of board is female|
|MSCI ESG Rating: CCC||MSCI ESG Rating: A|
Source: MSCI ESG Research
From board diversity to green loans, a sustainable investment dollar supports companies that are actively advancing society and the environment.
Sustainable Investment: The Time to Act
Recently, investor dollars and shareholder activism have been closely linked.
Between 2018 and 2020, large institutional investors filed 217 shareholder proposals on climate change alone, putting increased pressure on companies. Meanwhile, 270 proposals were filed on corporate political activity and 228 on fair labor and equal employment opportunity over the same timeframe. Across all ESG proposals, $2 trillion in assets were pushing for more equitable corporate action.
Through the power of a dollar, investors can send a clear signal to companies: the time for sustainable investing is now.
China’s Economy: 40 Years of Soaring Exports
China’s economy today is completely different than 40 years ago; in 2021 the country makes up the highest share of exports globally.
Animated Chart: 40 Years of Soaring Exports in China
China has the second highest GDP in the world, and it exports 15% of all the world’s goods. But how did this come to be?
A mere 40 years ago, China’s economy was in an entirely different situation, making up less than 1% of global exports and still in the infancy stages of building its economy. The above animated chart from the UNCTAD showcases China’s rise to global trade dominance over time.
Timeline: The Rise to Power
The China of the mid-20th century looks remarkably different when compared to the modern-day nation. Prior to the 1980s, China was going through a period of social upheaval, poverty, and dictatorship under Mao Zedong.
Beginning in the late 1970s, China’s share of global exports stood at less than 1%. The country had few trade hubs and little industry. In 1979, for example, Shenzhen was a city of just around 30,000 inhabitants.
In fact, China (excluding Taiwan* and Hong Kong) did not even show up in the top 10 global exporters until 1997 when it hit a 3.3% share of global exports.
|Year||Share of Global Exports||Rank|
*Editor’s note: The above data comes from the UN, which lists Taiwan as a separate region of China for political reasons.
In the 1980s, several cities and regions, like the Pearl River Delta, were designated as Special Economic Zones. These SEZs had tax incentives that worked to attract foreign investment.
Additionally, in 1989, the Coastal Development Strategy was implemented to use strategic regions along the country’s coast as catalysts for economic development.
The 1990s and Onwards
By the 1990s, the world saw the rise of global value chains and transnational production lines, with China offering a cheap manufacturing hub due to low labor costs.
Rounding out the ‘90s, the Western Development Strategy was implemented in 1999, dubbed the “Open Up the West” program. This program worked to build up infrastructure and education to retain talent in China’s economy, with the goal of attracting further foreign investment.
Finally, China officially joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 which allowed the country to progress full steam ahead.
Made in China
Today China is a trade giant and manufacturing behemoth. Only the U.S. and Germany come close to its share of global exports, sitting at 8.1% and 7.8% respectively.
|Rank||Country||Share of Global Exports (2020)|
|#6||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||3.1%|
|#7||🇰🇷 South Korea||2.9%|
China’s manufacturing industry has become dominant in producing just about anything from commonplace household items to integral pieces in automotive manufacturing. Some staples of Chinese manufacturing are:
- Precision instruments
- Industrial machinery for computers and smartphones
COVID-19 made China’s integral role in the global economy even more visceral, as major delays in the supply chain occurred when the virus hit the country.
An Economic Superpower
In 2021, China’s trade recovery from the crisis has bested most other countries—in Q1 2021, its exports grew by almost 50% compared to the previous year’s quarter, to around $710 billion.
And the country is not slowing down any time soon. Further plans for economic development are well under way, like Made in China 2025, with the goal of becoming a dominant player in global high-tech manufacturing. Additionally, the famous One Belt, One Road initiative has been funding infrastructure projects globally over the past decade, and the country is also a founding member of the RCEP—which is soon to be the world’s biggest trading bloc.
However, China still faces a series of challenges, such as:
- Population decline
- The onset of labor saving technology
- Trade wars with U.S. and sanctions from other trade partners, like Europe
- The emergence of ASEAN trade powers, like Vietnam
A declining population has many implications like a shrinking workforce and domestic market. Additionally, many companies are setting up shop in less costly manufacturing hubs like Vietnam.
Furthermore, inexpensive innovations in labor-saving technologies, such as robotics and automation, have already begun to undermine the cheap manual labor that has made China the world’s manufacturer.
All of these elements and more could potentially spell a slowing of growth in China’s export dominance. However, while the future for China may not be certain, currently, global trade and production could not function without it.
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