A sleeping giant awakes

Friday, 4 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

America’s banks dominate the 2011 BrandFinance Banking 500 as

financial institutions begin rebuilding damaged reputations

PROACTIVE marketing strategies and an improving domestic consumer banking market have seen the US regain its place as the world’s financial capital, according to the fifth edition of the BrandFinance Global Banking 500 – an annual review of the top banking brands in the world published in The Banker.  

Despite concerns of further mortgage-related write-downs, Bank of America is currently the most valuable banking brand in the world. In 2010, the company actively sought to repair its reputation – supporting new consumer protection legislation, modifying 285,000 loans, 76,000 in the fourth quarter alone, and engaging in more philanthropic activities – which was underpinned by strong results, the integration of Merrill Lynch and overall improvements in the consumer banking market.

The BrandFinance Banking 500 contains 90 American banks and 20 UK banks. Many of these larger institutions have directly addressed their recent perceived failings, from Goldman Sachs’ 39 recommendations and proposed restructuring, to Bob Diamond’s cordial but bullish defence of Barclays to the UK’s Treasury Select Committee.  Whilst investors remain twitchy about the full extent of further write-offs and the introduction of more stringent legislation, many brands have seen their rebuilding strategies in tackling perceptual issues be rewarded with both increases in brand value and stable or enhanced Brand Ratings.

Brazil and China

Bradesco (brand value - $18.7 b) is one of the big winners in 2011, moving up three places, reflecting its domestic dominance and the increasingly positive international view of Brazil’s economy. Itaú, another Brazilian bank, recorded the largest overall brand value increase ($9.7 b). ICBC Bank enters the top ten, a first for Chinese banks, and is the only Chinese bank with a retail presence in the US.   Despite their colossal market capitalisations and enormous retail networks, Chinese banks still have both substantial perceptual and regulatory hurdles to overcome before they achieve significant international retail expansion.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance Plc, said: “The top tier of the BrandFinance Banking 500 demonstrates that a cohesive, intelligent brand strategy can help to salvage even the most damaged reputations. Banking brands have never previously been subjected to such high levels of consumer, client and political scrutiny. However, it is possible that some banks will struggle in the short to medium-term as their business strategy fails to deliver on their revised brand and communications mandate.” “The BrandFinance Banking 500 is now in its fifth year, and it is interesting to see some of the forecasted trends come to fruition: the rise of the brands from the BRIC countries and consolidation amongst Western banks. The focus for 2011 will be the stability of the US brands’ recovery, and the possibility of the BRIC brands successfully expanding internationally.”

Being resilient

Anne Finucane, Global Strategy & Marketing Officer Bank of America added: “Our vision is to be recognised as the finest financial services firm in the world.  In today’s new reality, that has little to do with simply quarterly earnings or a marketing budget – it’s about being resilient and focused on the issues that matter most to consumers and communities, and that truly drive the domestic and global economies forward.  At the end of the day, our brand is clearly a very powerful asset to leverage against all our businesses and it is setting opportunity in motion for everyone we serve.” In conclusion Haigh said: “The use of a thorough brand valuation does exactly this, the ability to understand the core issues facing the brand and the ability to leverage it within the organisation in appropriate ways, thereby effectively using what is essentially an important asset. There are too many companies that let their brand evolve, or leave it in the hands of the promotions and advertising department.”

First published in 2006, The BrandFinance Global Banking 500 was the first publicly available study analysing the financial value of the world’s top 100 banking brands. It is published annually and incorporates data from all listed companies globally. Each brand is accorded a brand rating: a benchmarking study of the strength, risk and future potential of a brand relative to its competitor set as well as a brand value: a summary measure of the financial strength of the brand.

Brand Finance is an independent global business focused on advising strongly branded organisations on how to maximise value through effective management of their brands and intangible assets. Since it was founded in 1996, Brand Finance has performed thousands of branded business, brand and intangible asset valuations worth trillions of dollars.

Its clients include international brand owners, tax authorities, IP lawyers and investment banks. Its work is frequently peer-reviewed by the big four audit practices and its reports have been accepted by various regulatory bodies, including the UK Takeover Panel.

Brand Finance is headquartered in London and has a network of international offices in Amsterdam, Athens, Bangalore, Barcelona, Cape Town, Colombo, Dubai, Geneva, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Singapore, Toronto and Zagreb.