Ferrari, is the world’s strongest brand, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 2019 report that launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo: File

DURBAN – Italian supercar manufacturer, Ferrari, has claimed the title of the world’s strongest brand, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 2019 report launching today at the World Economic Forum in Davos. 

Ferrari’s Brand Strength Index (BSI) score increased three points from 91.5 to 94.8 out of 100 over the past year, overtaking the likes of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Lego, and Disney. The iconic auto brand last held the title of the world’s strongest in 2014.

Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy, determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. According to these criteria, Ferrari is the strongest of only 14 brands in the Brand Finance Global 500 2019 ranking of the world’s most valuable brands to be awarded the highest AAA+ rating.

Since its inception, Ferrari has remained synonymous with style and performance, enabling the brand to successfully extend into other sectors – from merchandise, such as hats and sunglasses, to theme parks, and even the Maranello Village, a Ferrari-themed hotel – without losing its appeal as a luxury brand. 

Along with the level of revenues, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. As Ferrari’s brand strength flourished this year, its brand value also improved, racing ahead 27 percent to US$8.3 billion. Most of Ferrari’s limited production of models for 2018 and part of 2019 were already sold out by May 2018, and new chief executive Louis Camilleri presented a plan in September 2018 promising 15 new models including hybrids, which remains on trend with the shift to electric across the auto industry.

Below is a table with the World's 10 Most Valuable Brands:

Rank 2019 Brand name Country Sector Brand value (USD bn) 2019
1. Amazon United States Tech $187.9 billion
2. Apple United States Tech $153.6 billion
3. Google United States Tech $142.8 billion
4. Microsoft United States Tech $119.6 billion
5. Samsung South Korea Tech $91.3 billion
6. AT&T United States Telecoms $87.0 billion
7. Facebook United States Tech $83.2 billion
8. ICBC China Banking $79.8 billion
9. Verizon United States Telecoms $71.2 billion
10. China Construction Bank China Banking $69.7 billion

Big Four Among Strongest Brands

The Big Four professional services firms also achieved noteworthy performance in terms of brand strength this year, with three of them posting the same elite AAA+ brand rating as Ferrari. Deloitte leads the charge as the strongest and most valuable of the accounting and audit giants with a BSI score of 91.2 (brand value US$29.6 billion), pulling ahead of last year’s sector leader, PwC, this year with a BSI score of 89.8 (US$24.9 billion). EY also continues to attain elite AAA+ status, with a BSI of 89.7 (US$23.2 billion) having achieved fast growth in both brand strength and brand value in recent years. Though the Big Four hold steady overall among commercial services brands with regards to brand strength, KPMG trails behind with a BSI of 83.2, down 4 percent from last year. The KPMG brand has been impacted by controversies in 2018, including the widely covered audit of now defunct UK construction firm Carillion.

Tech Titans Dominate Top 10

Apart from disrupting traditional industries, the tech sector has carved out a clear space of its own, demanding 6 positions in the top 10 most valuable brands. In addition to Amazon in 1st, Apple (2nd, US$153.6 billion) and Google (3rd, US$142.8 billion) round out the top three positions. As Apple struggles to grow in key emerging markets and shows little motivation to diversify its portfolio, it could be the opportune moment for Google to shift to 2nd place in 2020. Although punching among the brand heavyweights, Apple has recorded mixed performance in the Brand Finance Global 500 over the past few years, losing to Google in 2017 and subsequently to Amazon. Will Apple share Walmart’s fate as its reliance on handset sales endangers its long-term prosperity, causing the brand to travel down the ranks? It remains to be seen whether Google will continue to rake in sales, regardless of its woes over EU fines or employee distrust, allowing it to best Apple in the ranking.

One brand making an interesting comeback is Microsoft, up from 6th to 4th in the Brand Finance Global 500. With a 47 percent increase in brand value to US$119.6 billion, it is the fastest-growing brand among the top 10 most valuable. The company’s transformation to a cloud-centric business model has proven successful in the last year, with revenue increasing 17 percent in 2018. 

While Facebook secured its spot as the 7th most valuable brand, its overall brand strength declined with the second worst BSI performance in the top 100, decreasing 11 percent to 82.9. Following a succession of scandals – including the Cambridge Analytica data misuse, the role the platform played in spreading fake news, and a network security breach – it is no surprise that there remains significant distrust in the brand. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE