Brand T held on to the top spot once again in Millward Brown’s BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands list, despite increases in brand value for almost all of the brands in the top 10, as well as a massive increase in value for US electric vehicle-maker Tesla.
Increasing its 2017 value by five per cent, Toyota’s perceived brand value according to the study was $US29.98 billion, with Millward Brown highlighting company successes such as the Camry mid-sizer holding the top spot as the best-selling sedan in the US, as well as its dominance of the global hybrid market.
Mercedes-Benz leapfrogged fellow premium German manufacturer BMW, with the Stuttgart-based giant recording a brand value of $25.68b – a 9.0 per cent hike – while the Bavarian brand increased its value by 4.0 per cent to trail Benz slightly with $25.62b.
Millward Brown said in the report that Benz’s youth-oriented ‘Grow Up’ advertising and marketing campaign, featuring rapper A$AP Rocky, resonated with younger car buyers and helped the company sell more vehicles than BMW.
BMW lost sales in the US but gained ground in China and the report stated that the car-maker “continued to make cars that people want to drive”.
Ford was the only car brand in negative territory on this year’s list, with the Blue Oval dropping by 0.2 per cent to $12.72b, but it managed to hold onto fourth spot, the same ranking as last year.
The report highlighted Ford’s slight sales downturn in China that it blamed on increasing competition from Chinese brands, but it also said the company was looking to the future by investing in future mobility programs, including its Chariot ride-sharing van in London and San Francisco.
Honda also held steady in fifth spot for a second year running, with a 5.0 per cent lift in brand value to $12.69b, while Nissan stayed firm in sixth again with a 1.0 per cent increase to $11.42b.
Millward Brown said the strength of Nissan’s global SUV line-up helped the car-maker, but also pointed out that discounting in the US market hurt its profits.
Audi held onto seventh spot for another year, with the German car-maker growing its brand value by 3.0 per cent to $9.63b.
The report said the launch of the Q2 baby SUV was another example of Audi pushing further into entry-level segments, but added that the company was focusing on its brand rather than functionality in its advertising and marketing.
“Audi has been shifting the center of brand gravity down for several years. It has sustained the brand with sophisticated communication, and the brand enjoyed success, particularly with strong demand in the US. In China, Audi is repositioning to a lifestyle car from a car that had been favoured by the government for its fleets,” the report said.
The biggest mover was US EV-maker Tesla, which lifted its brand value by a massive 60 per cent over last year to $9.41b. In the 2017 report, it had risen by 32 per cent over 2016.
Despite production problems with the upcoming Model 3 that also hurt Tesla’s share price, the report said that there was a “fascination with a technology brand that is also in the space travel business, and the sense of potential”.
Probably the biggest surprise in this year’s rankings was the inclusion of Indian manufacturer Maruti Suzuki in the top 10 for the first time with a brand value of $6.37b.
Millward Brown said the introduction of the more premium Maruti Suzuki ‘Nexa’ dealerships in India that sell affordable luxury models helped the company appeal to the rising middle class, in particular younger buyers.
Rounding out the top 10 was Volkswagen, which re-entered the list after a two-year absence, which was largely due to the diesel emissions cheating scandal of 2015.
Its brand value was $5.98b and the report said strong US sales, its best ever global sales performance and the introduction of new models, specifically SUVs, drew VW back into the top 10.
Maruti Suzuki and VW’s inclusion in the top 10 forced out last year’s ninth place holder Land Rover and 10th placed Porsche.
In terms of country of origin, Germany had four entrants in the list, followed by Japan with three, the US with two and India on one.
Of the 10 brands, four (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla) are premium, while the rest are classed as mainstream manufacturers.
Google topped the overall BrandZ Top 100 list with a brand value of $302b, followed by Apple ($300.5b), Amazon ($207.6b), Microsoft ($200.9b) and Chinese tech brand Tencent ($178.9).
While Toyota was number one in the car brands list, it ranked 36th in the overall global brands list, with Benz and BMW on 46 and 47 respectively, with Ford and Honda slipping into the top 100 in 96th and 97th spot.
Millward Brown says the BrandZ ranking “lists the brands making the largest absolute dollar contribution to the total value of their respective parent companies, considering both current and projected performance,” with the research covering more than 3.6 million consumer interviews and more than 120,000 brands in more than 50 markets.
By Tim Nicholson