Profitability and popularity don’t always go in hand, according to research
Cadbury, Dove and Dyson have at least one thing in common: they are the only brands each ranking in the top 50 of three different UK brand value indexes. Global branding strategy firm Prophet, London-based market research firm Opinium and British multinational market research firm Millward Brown have each released an index describing the most valued brands in the UK in 2018. But their conclusions are very different.
It’s clear that each means something different when describing brand value. Each index tells a different story about brand value but collectively they make the same point; consumer confidence and loyalty does not necessarily correlate with the largest profit margins – unless you’re Cadbury, Dove or Dyson.
Businesses looking to determine which index is most useful must be able to answer a semiotic question: what does ‘value’ mean?
Prophet combined the most-bought brands of 2017 with a survey of 11,500 consumers to create its 2018 Brand Relevance Index. Clothing, beauty, consumer electronics, retail brands, household brands and media brands each took five of its top 50 influential spots. Consumer electronics performed the best out of any sector; each of the top ranking consumer electronic brands is rated as a top 20 brand, including Apple, found to be the UK’s most valuable brand in 2018. Stalwart Stella Artois dropped 56 positions to #206 and H&M dropped 42 spots to #148. The Independent dropped a massive 96 positions to #212 while fellow information platform Facebook dropped 51 spots to #143. Its top 50 most consumer favourable, bestselling brands of 2018 are listed below.
Prophet Brand Relevance Index 2018
31. John Lewis
33. Fisher Price
34. Just Eat
London-based market research firm Opinium’s Most Connected Brands Index (MCBI) combined prominence, distinction, emotional connection, popularity and buzz metrics and collated 48,000 brand reviews to determine which brands UK consumers rate. In its top 50, grocery and drugstore brands took eight spots, while retail and consumer electronics each took seven, with three of the top 10 spots going to Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Opinium’s top spot went to conglomerate Amazon, however no brands from the beauty or gaming sectors rated on Opinium’s top 50.
Opinium's Most Connected Brands - UK 2018
31. Birds Eye
44. John Lewis
Twenty-one brands appear on Prophet and Opinium’s lists, correlating the consumer feedback results of both, but they also have telling differences. Although there is a great deal of overlap between both indexes, six of Prophet’s top 10 brands, Lego, Playstation, Fitbit, Spotify, NHS and Android, aren’t in Opinium’s top 50 and three of Opinium’s top 10 brands, Heinz, BBC and Microsoft, are absent in Prophet’s top 50 index. The discrepancy may have to do with the fact that bestselling brands aren’t necessarily topics of much organic discussion, especially as brands like Heinz cover a variety of well known products.
Crossover brands between Prophet and Opinium
- John Lewis
The immediately obvious difference between Prophet and Opinium’s lists and Millward Brown’s BrandZ database is BrandZ’s inclusion of several brands from the telecoms, energy and retail banking sectors. Their inclusion reflects the singular task of BrandZ’s report – to collate quantitative data based on market shares and profit reports to determine brand value, rather than B2C evaluations. Financial services brands dominate the list with 13 entries, followed by eight grocery brands, seven telecommunications brands and six brands from the energy sector. It’s remarkable that Vodafone, rated highest according to BrandZ had one of the largest reputational declines between 2017 and 2018, according to the Reputation Institute, and was recently rated as one of the 12th worst high street shops by Which?, tied along with other BrandZ ranking brands, Morrisons and Three.
BrandZ's UK Top Brands 2018
12. Virgin Media
14. Land Rover
15. Lloyds Bank
21. Standard Chartered
24. Johnnie Walker
30. Just Eat
31. British Gas
37. The National Lottery
41. Legal & General
42. William Hill
47. British Airways
As evidenced by BrandZ and Prophet’s indexes, profitability and popularity don’t always go in hand. If not maligned, many financially successful brands are at least uninspiring to consumers, as is clear by their lack of engagement. Yet, according to Thomson Reuters and Interbrand’s metric, 75% of a brand’s value is its reputation, not stated products and assets. It’s not easy to reconcile a lack of reputational success alongside massive financial prosperity but this cognitive dissonance is perfectly normal. Many of the brands listed highest by BrandZ could be categorised as ‘necessary evils’ to many without causing mass disinvestment in their services and furthermore have few true competitors in their prospective sectors.
None of these indexes are ‘wrong’ in their evaluations, but doing a straight comparison of brands that straddle these lists doesn’t settle these discrepancies either. Many with the best reputations could never dream to be worth more than big telecom, banks or the oil and gas industry, but it is worth comparing brands to themselves over time. Tracking individual reputations and their market evaluations year-on-year, meaningful value trends are more likely to be made by such indexes over time. Meanwhile, brands looking to move up in the public’s estimation and profit margins could do well to look over the positioning of their ranking competitors.
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