• Transform magazine
  • November 29, 2023


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 

1. Apple

2. Lego

3. Playstation

4. Google

5. Netflix

6. Fitbit

7. Spotify

8. Amazon.co.uk

9. NHS

10. Android

11. Nintendo

12. Dyson

13. Samsung

14. Pixar

15. Sony

16. Lush

17. XBox

18. Nike

19. Benefit

20. Disney

21. Puregym

22. Whatsapp

23. Bose

24. YouTube

25. PayPal

26. Uber

27. Sky

28. Ikea

29. Adidas

30. Asos

31. John Lewis

32. Microsoft

33. Fisher Price

34. Just Eat

35. Cadbury

36. Dove

37. Sensodyne

38. BMW

39. Bosch

40. Instagram

41. Clinique

42. Visa

43. Intel

44. eBay

45. Pinterest

46. EA

47. No7

48. Converse

49. Nationwide

50. Nivea

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

1. Amazon

2. Google

3. Heinz

4. BBC

5. Apple

6. YouTube

7. Samsung

8. Cadbury

9. eBay

10. Microsoft

11. Coca-Cola

12. PayPal

13. Tesco

14. Walkers

15. Kellogg's

16. Argos

17. Dyson

18. Lidl

19. M&S

20. Colgate

21. Aldi

22. Fairy

23. Boots

24. Sainsbury's

25. Facebook

26. Sony

27. McVities

28. Dove

29. McDonald's

30. Netflix

31. Birds Eye

32. Morrisons

33. Nivea

34. WhatsApp

35. Adidas

36. Ikea

37. Mastercard

38. Disney

39. Nestle

40. ASDA

41. Iceland

42. Gilette

43. Nescafe

44. John Lewis

45. Nike

46. Primark

47. Ford

48. Tetley

49. Panasonic

50. HP

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

  • Adidas
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Boots
  • Cadbury
  • Disney
  • Dove
  • Dyson
  • eBay
  • Ford
  • Google
  • Ikea
  • John Lewis
  • Netflix
  • Nike
  • Nivea
  • PayPal
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • WhatsApp
  • YouTube

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

1. Vodafone


3. Shell

4. BT

5. Sky

6. BP

7. Tesco

8. Lipton

9. Barclays

10. Dove

11. O2

12. Virgin Media

13. Three

14. Land Rover

15. Lloyds Bank

16. Burberry

17. Prudential

18. Cadbury

19. Asos

20. Dyson

21. Standard Chartered

22. M&S

23. Castrol

24. Johnnie Walker

25. Next

26. Sainsbury's

27. Aviva

28. ASDA

29. BBC

30. Just Eat

31. British Gas

32. Mini

33. EE

34. ITV

35. SSE

36. Morrisons

37. The National Lottery

38. NatWest

39. Boots

40. Jaguar

41. Legal & General

42. William Hill

43. RBS

44. Bet365

45. KitKat

46. Comparethemarket.com

47. British Airways

48. Co-op

49. Ocado

50. Dulux

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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