Amazon overtakes Apple to reclaim title of world’s most valuable brand

Aramco and Adnoc remained the Middle East's top valuable brands, the Brand Finance Global 500 report shows

An Amazon warehouse in Florida. The company's brand value is still up 36 per cent since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. EPA
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Amazon grabbed the crown from Apple to become the world's most valuable brand, worth $299.3 billion, while oil and gas companies Saudi Aramco and Adnoc remained the Middle East's top brands, a report has said.

Amazon overtook Apple despite a tough year for the tech sector, after the e-commerce major had held the title of world’s most valuable brand from 2018 to 2020.

“Our research has found that Amazon’s brand value comes from its strong dominant position in both B2C and B2B sectors of the economy, as a dominant operator in the massive markets of online retail and cloud computing services," David Haigh, chief executive and chairman of Brand Finance, said.

Aramco's brand value rose by 4 per cent to $43.6 billion, making it the most valuable brand in the Middle East, the report by consultancy Brand Finance showed.

The London-based consultancy assesses the strengths of global brands, quantifies their value and ranks them annually across sectors and countries.

Aramco's brand expanded its operations significantly in 2022 as it pledged to meet sustainability goals through partnerships and recently formed a strategic alliance with Chinese petrochemicals company Sinopec to promote the use of hydrogen and renewables, as well as carbon capture in China.

Adnoc recorded an 11 per cent increase in brand value to $14.1 billion, making it the second-most valuable brand in the Middle East, according to the Brand Finance Global 500 2023 rankings. It also has a corresponding Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 79 out of 100.

Globally amongst all brands, Adnoc climbed 28 places to 138th place from 167th in 2022. Within the oil and gas industry, Adnoc rose one rank to 8th place, overtaking Petronas which has dropped to 10th.

In terms of brand strength, Adnoc is now the 10th strongest oil and gas brand globally, up two places from 12th in 2022.

“Adnoc’s commitment to make today’s energy cleaner, while investing in the clean energies of tomorrow, continues to strengthen our position as a reliable and responsible global energy provider while enhancing the strength and value of our brand,” the company said in a statement.

Adnoc has expanded its areas of operations via acquisitions, including the purchase of Mubadala Investment Company’s 25 per cent stake in Austrian chemicals producer Borealis as it pushes to expand its international footprint in the fast-growing chemicals and petrochemical sector.

The BSI determines the relative strength of brands through a scorecard of criteria evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance.

Etisalat by e&, the UAE's biggest telecoms operator, also increased its brand value by 4 per cent to $10.5 billion and retained its position as the strongest brand in the region with a BSI score of 89.1 out of 100, the consultancy said.

“As the telecommunication industry continues to struggle with commoditisation, e& has taken the bold and necessary step to reposition its brand identity to unlock new opportunities and services,” said Mr Haigh.

“The ongoing brand evolution enhances the ability to branch out into new services, as well as stepping up from being a strong regional player to being a brand with global aspirations.”

Abu Dhabi-based e& was founded in 1976 and is the UAE's oldest telecoms company. It has operations in about 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and serves more than 156 million customers.

In February 2022, e& rebranded as it sought to transform into a global technology investment conglomerate.

Globally, Amazon, Apple and Google rounded off the world's top three most valuable brands in a strong showing for the technology industry amid a tough year for the sector.

Amazon’s brand value rose 36 per cent since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, as it became a major player across different sectors.

“Despite already having the world’s most valuable brand, it is continuing to expand into new verticals such as brick and mortar retailing, the acquisition of film studios and payment processing,” said Mr Haigh.

“Further, with Amazon’s full online retail services available in just 18 nations, there remains further scope to expand its geographic reach.”

Amazon reclaimed the title despite a 15 per cent drop in its brand value to $299.3 billion, from $350.3 billion last year. This was accompanied by a corresponding fall in brand strength, with its rating down from “AAA+” to “AAA” as consumers “evaluate it more harshly in the post-pandemic world”, the report said.

Customer perception of Amazon's customer service dropped as delivery times became longer and consumers are now less likely to recommend Amazon to others, the research found.

“Concurrent with the conclusion of pandemic restrictions, people are returning to shopping in-person, slightly mitigating the need for online retail,” the report said.

Amazon has also failed to meet expected targets, with significant cost cutting and layoffs affecting its brand value, the report said.

Apple dropped into second place, with its brand value falling 16 per cent to $297.9 billion. This was due to a lower revenue forecast as supply chain disruptions and labour shortages are expected to limit the supply of its hardware products, according to Brand Finance.

Alphabet-owned Google retained its position as third, with a 7 per cent increase in brand value to $281.4 billion as it continued to release new products and services, the report said.

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Google emerged as the world's strongest brand, with a BSI score of slightly more than 93, followed by its subsidiary YouTube with a BSI score of slightly under 93, with both brands earning the top “AAA+” rating.

Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Auto was the fastest-growing brand worldwide, with its brand value up 57 per cent to $10.1 billion, amid growing sales in the world’s largest EV market, the report said.

“BYD continues the strong growth that has seen it as one of the world’s fastest-growing brands for several years now,” Mr Haigh said.

“Ranked among the leading electric vehicle manufacturers on the basis of its Chinese dominance, it is now expanding geographically — which opens up further room for growth.”

Rounding off the top five fastest-growing brands were US oil and gas company ConocoPhillips (brand value up 56 per cent to $8.9 billion), shipping business Maersk (up 53 per cent to $7.4 billion) and LinkedIn (up 49 per cent to $15.5 billion).

Other fast-growing brands were in the airline industry, where travel demand recovered after the Covid-19 pandemic, making United Airlines (brand value up 46 per cent to $8 billion) and American Airlines (up 36 per cent to $8.5 billion) the fastest-growing airlines in the Global 500 ranking.

In terms of the top sectors, technology remained the most valuable industry worldwide, with an overall brand value of at least $1.2 trillion, accounting for about 15 per cent of the total value of the rankings.

This was driven mainly by Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, which together accounted for about 50 per cent of the sector's total brand value.

Contributing to the growth of the sector were brands classified in other sectors — such as Amazon, Google, TikTok, Facebook and WeChat — that have obvious connections to the broader technology industry, the report said.

Retail was ranked the second-most valuable sector as it remained above the $1 trillion mark for the second consecutive year due to a boom in e-commerce during the pandemic, despite suffering a 9 per cent fall in overall brand value in the previous year.

The banking sector had the largest number of brands in the Brand Finance Global 500 2023 ranking, increasing from 64 last year to 72 in 2023, amid a digital transformation spurred by the pandemic.

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In terms of regions, the US continues to dominate the ranking, now accounting for 202 out of 500 of the brands and half of its overall value ($4 trillion).

China is home to the second-largest aggregate brand value in the ranking, with an overall value of $1.4 trillion, a 9 per cent annual decline.

The 78 Chinese brands included in the ranking accounted for 18 per cent of the overall global value.

Germany, Japan, France, the UK, South Korea and Canada followed in terms of highest brand-value contribution by country.

In Europe, Deutsche Telekom became the continent's most valuable, with Mercedes-Benz following closely behind.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Korean electronics brand Samsung Group was named the most valuable brand.

In the Australasia region, retail group Woolworths remained the region's most valuable brand despite facing challenging issues such as a rise in the cost of living and supply chain issues, the report said.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 2:19 AM