Branded nations

What’s interesting to me about the latest league table of the world’s most valuable brands is not the continued dominance of Google at number one. It’s the nationalities of the brands. 

Millward Brown, a part of the WPP marketing and communications group, does the annual BrandZ rankings. There’s plenty of mumbo-jumbo in the explanation of the methodology. (Sample: “In the final step, the growth potential of these branded earnings is taken into account. This provides an earnings multiple that is aligned with the methods used by the analyst community, and also takes into account brand-specific growth opportunities and barriers.”) But that’s not my concern right now. Here are the top 25 ranked by Millward Brown’s assessment of brand value: 

  1. Google ($100 billion)
  2. Microsoft ($76.2 billion)
  3. Coca-Cola ($67.6 billion)
  4. IBM ($66.6 billion)
  5. McDonalds ($66.5 billion)
  6. Apple ($66.1 billion)
  7. China Mobile ($61.2 billion)
  8. GE ($59.7 billion)
  9. Vodafone ($53.7 billion)
  10. Marlboro ($49.4 billion)
  11. Walmart ($41 billion)
  12. ICBC ($35 billion)
  13. Nokia ($35.1 billion)
  14. Toyota ($29.9 billion)
  15. UPS ($27.8 billion)
  16. Blackberry ($27.4 billion)
  17. HP ($26.7 billion)
  18. BMW ($23.9 billion)
  19. SAP ($23.6 billion)
  20. Disney ($23.1 billion)
  21. Tesco ($22.9 billion)
  22. Gillette ($22.9 billion)
  23. Intel ($22.8 billion)
  24. China Construction Bank ($22.8 billion)
  25. Oracle ($21.4 billion)

By my count, the top 25 have 15 US brands, three Chinese (two banks, hmm), two British, two German, and one each from Finland, Japan and Canada. 

I’m not sure what to make of this. The US remains the world’s biggest economy, but its roughly equalled in size by the total European economy. Still, 60 per cent of the world’s most valuable brands are American, and only 20 per cent are European. China is rightly acknowledged as the world’s rising economic power, but there are only two banks and a mobile phone company in the top 25. No sign of Haider or Lenovo, the kinds of Chinese companies that could conceivably challenge on a global stage (they aren’t in the top 100, either). 

So should we sit back and relax as Americans, since we’re still clearly pre-eminent in the world of brands? Or is this another bubblicious illusion that is about to pop?

2 thoughts on “Branded nations

  1. NIgel Hollis

    The last thing American brands should do is sit back and relax. Right now they are still enjoying the benefits of being first to go international but brands from other countries are rapidly catching up.

    1. Lance Knobel

      You’re certainly right. The surprise in your rankings for me was that there were still so few non-American brands in the top cohort.


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