The world’s top 500 banking brands have turned the tide on brand value contraction for the first time in three years, observing a 9% year-on-year brand value growth to reach an all-time high of US$1.38 trillion, according to the latest report by Brand Finance published in The Banker magazine today.
Every year, leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test, and publishes nearly 100 reports, ranking brands across all sectors and countries. The world’s top 500 most valuable and strongest banking brands are included in the annual Brand Finance Banking 500 ranking.
The brand value of the world’s largest banks shrunk by 2% by the beginning of 2020 (US$1.33 trillion) and a further 4% by 2021 (US$1.27 trillion). Initially caused by economic uncertainty and interest rate movements, the situation was exacerbated by the pandemic, which saw profit and interest rates take a hit.
However, as nations continued to adapt to COVID-19 and economies rebounded over the past year, loan loss provisions were much less significant than initially forecasted by industry experts. Furthermore, improved digitalisation by banking brands, coupled with a strong government intervention and economic recovery around the world resulted in a higher than expected industry profitability in 2021.
While this year’s overall brand value growth is undoubtedly a positive sign for the industry, it signifies a meagre 2% increase from US$1.36 trillion, which was the combined pre-pandemic brand value of the world’s top 500 banking brands in 2019. Particularly in Europe, banks are still feeling the effects of COVID-19, where weak profits are not helped by cost inefficiency and insufficient investments in digital technology.
As banks continue to battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a solid brand is more significant than ever. Banking products are becoming more commoditised, and banks will need to continue differentiating themselves from other competitors in the market, through the use of their brand, particularly in the face of an emerging threat from challenger brands and decentralised finance in the future.
Many of the world’s largest banking brands have come through the worst of the pandemic stronger – a testament to the role they have played in supporting the real economy through the past 12 months,” said Joy Macknight, editor of The Banker. “Banks’ digital transformation efforts over recent years meant they were able to respond faster to client needs, as well as deliver new products and services, which has boosted banks’ reputations in the eyes of their retail and corporate customers.David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance
Chinese banks dominate ranking
Chinese banks maintain the lead in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, accounting for one third of total brand value and worth a cumulative US$454.4 billion. While their global counterparts saw drops in brand value over the past two years, Chinese banks remained largely impervious to these issues. A significant factor to this success was not only the nation’s timely response to the virus, but also the early and continued investment into digital development, allowing Chinese banks to continue engaging with their customers with relatively little disruption. Over the past year, China’s economy has continued to recover steadily despite a complex and ever-changing domestic and international environment. In the first half of 2021 alone, the nation’s GDP increased by 13% year-on-year.
The world’s largest bank by total assets, ICBC’s brand value has increased by 3% to US$75.1 billion, making it the world’s most valuable banking brand again as well as the 8th most valuable brand across all industries in the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking. Over the past year, ICBC has continued to fare well with consumers and expand its portfolio, opening branches in foreign markets such as Mexico, Argentina, and most recently Panama. ICBC continues to outshine its competitors, holding a healthy brand value lead ahead of China Construction Bank (up 10% to US$65.5 billion) and Agricultural Bank of China (up 17% to US$62.0 billion), which rank 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Bank of China (up 2% to US$49.6 billion) and China Merchants Bank (up 16% to US$24.4 billion) have also held on to their spots in the top 10 most valuable banking brands, ranked 4th and 10th for another year.
Chinese banks have performed extraordinarily well this year, with no signs of growth slowing down for years to come. This was undoubtedly aided by the country’s timely response to the pandemic, which reduced the level of economic disruption observed by its counterparts in Europe and the United States.Declan Ahern, Valuation Director at Brand Finance
US banks account for 5 spots in top 10
US banks account for almost a quarter of the total brand value in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, worth a cumulative brand value of US$313.7 billion. Of these 76 brands, Bank of America (up 12% to US$36.7 billion), Citi (up 7% to US$34.4 billion), Chase (up 5% to US$30.1 billion), Wells Fargo (down 6% to US$30.1 billion), and JP Morgan (up 23% to US$28.9 billion) have held on to their spots in the top 10 of the world’s most valuable.
Citi’s future in the coming year may be less certain, as the bank announced its withdrawal from all retail banking operations in Mexico in January 2022. Placing the brand and entire retail operation for sale, Citi intends to focus on businesses that benefit from connecting to its global network while allowing the bank to further simplify its business. However, questions remain regarding the future of the Banamex brand as well as the 1,500 retail branch network that handles over 20 million clients and approximately 15.5 million daily transactions.
Dropping 1 spot in the ranking to 8th position, Wells Fargo is the only bank in the top 10 with a contracting brand value. Wells Fargo continues to be undermined by the account fraud scandal, where it emerged that the bank had forged millions of savings and checking accounts on behalf of its clients without their consent. The scandal continued to bring about financial and legal consequences in 2021.
Looking beyond East Asia and North America, HSBC (12th, up 6% to US$18.0 billion) is the most valuable banking brand in Europe, Singapore’s DBS (39th, up 11% to US$8.7 billion) leads the way in Southeast Asia, State Bank of India is number #1 in South Asia (43rd, up 29% to US$7.5 billion), and Itaú (51st, up 30% to US$6.6 billion) dominates in Latin America.
The largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa, QNB has consolidated its position as the most valuable banking brand in the region, observing a healthy brand value growth of 16% to reach US$7.1 billion. QNB also rose three spots to 45th place overall, now firmly situated amongst the 50 most valuable banking brands in the world.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, QNB continued to provide a high level of service for its customers alongside investing heavily into the development of the brand’s digital offering. This focus has allowed QNB to continue delivering successful campaigns, products, and services and build a strong portfolio which will prime the brand for future growth opportunities and international exposure.
QNB’s growth outpaced the average of the top 50 banking brands, reflecting the hard work put behind the brand and business over the last few years. The brand has acted as a unifying force across its operations, which have benefitted from the significant investment in digital services for retail and corporate clients, and has helped consolidate QNB’s position in the top 50 of the Brand Finance Banking 500 ranking.David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance
30 newcomers have joined the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking this year, with new entrants such as Greece’s Piraeus Bank (brand value US$176 million), Israel’s Mercantile Discount Bank (brand value US$188 million), and Kenyan Equity Group (brand value US$388 million) hailing from smaller and emerging markets.
Of these new entrants, Saudi Arabia’s SNB (brand value US$3.2 billion) is situated firmly in the top 100, in 94th position, making it the highest-ranked new entrant. A significant rise in profits as well as emphasis on its sustainability initiatives have helped nudge SNB onto the world stage, with the brand recently announcing its plans to create a platform focusing on long-term investments in sustainable economic activities.
With an eyewatering brand value increase of 181%, Cadence Bank has re-entered the ranking as the fastest-growing brand of 2022, reaching a brand value of US$403 million. The US-based bank has recently entered into a merger agreement with BancorpSouth Bank, which held a brand value of US$266 million in the 2021 iteration of the Brand Finance Banking 500 ranking. As part of the agreement BancorpSouth has rebranded to Cadence Bank. The merger aims to provide more customer and relationship-focused financial services to Cadence Bank’s extensive customer base across the southern US.
Ambitious climbers in smaller markets
Looking at country level, with an overall brand value growth of 49%, Vietnam’s banking sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. All Vietnamese brands in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking have experienced growth or add to the country’s total as new entrants. It has been a very fruitful year for Vietnamese banks, which have observed continuous growth in their balance sheets and income statements, with both deposits and loans issued growing. This has been bolstered by the nation’s recovery from the pandemic, which was well-managed by the government, resulting in strong economic growth.
Among these brands, MBBank is also one of the fastest-growing in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, up by a staggering 113% to US$642 million. The brand has continued to innovate, particularly in the digital space by partnering with leading tech company, Software AG, to provide high speed online services for its customers. Similarly, Techcombank (up 80% to US$945 million) has invested heavily in cloud infrastructure as part of its strategy to nurture long-term relationships with clients. In addition, the strong growth in the Vietnamese banking sector has brought two new entrants to the top 500 this year, namely HD Bank (up 53% to US$248 million) and Saigon Hanoi Bank (up 63% to US$211 million).
The story is similar for the Polish banks in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, which have seen an overall brand value gain of 40% year on year. PKO Bank Polski (up 22% to US$2.2 billion) remains most valuable, followed by Bank Pekao (up 31% to US$1.2 billion), mBank (up 105% to US$999 million), Millennium (up 55% to US$487 million), and Alior Bank (up 53% to US$351 million).
Of these banks, mBank has recorded the best performance – doubling in brand value over the past year and placing among the top 5 fastest-growing banking brands in the world. The rapid gain is a result of the brand’s fantastic scores in Brand Finance’s original market research conducted among customers of Polish banks. As the nation’s first internet bank, mBank has paved the way for Poland’s banking industry through investments in the digital space, allowing it to serve customers in a more accessible and efficient way.
BCA as sector’s strongest
Apart from calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Certified by ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from over 100,000 respondents in more than 35 countries and across nearly 30 sectors.
According to these criteria, Indonesia’s BCA is the strongest bank in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, following a +2.5 point increase to reach a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 94.0 out of 100 and an elite AAA+ brand strength rating.
As one of the biggest banks in the ASEAN region and Indonesia’s largest lender by market value, BCA has performed strongly across key metrics, particularly those pertaining to customer satisfaction. In Brand Finance’s original market research, BCA outperformed its peers for reputation and quality, and scored highly for value for money.
Over the last year, the brand has undoubtedly been bolstered by significant investments in its digital banking arm, as the quality of digital platforms remains an important factor in customer perceptions of banking brands. BCA shows no signs of slowing down in the coming year, recently outlining its plans to list BCA Digital on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.
BCA’s performance is an excellent example of the importance of customer relationships in building brand loyalty and reputation. The brand has consistently scored favourably across brand strength metrics for the last few years, now reclaiming its spot as the strongest banking brand in the world.Declan Ahern, Valuation Director at Brand Finance
South Africa’s Capitec Bank has claimed the spot of the second strongest brand in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, boasting a BSI score of 92.4 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA+ brand strength rating. Despite having only been around for 22 years, Capitec Bank has already overtaken many of South Africa’s traditional banks, becoming the second largest bank by market cap. The brand continues to position itself as the nation’s leading retail franchise, delivering a low-cost alternative to traditional banks, and has already built a strong, loyal customer base. This helped boost Capitec Bank’s rank as 6th in the world for familiarity, 3rd for its quality of services, and it was noted as the 5th easiest bank to deal with. As the brand continues to uphold a customer-centric business model focused on providing low costs and high interest rates on deposits, it remains poised for further success.
Russia’s Sber rounds of the top 3 strongest banking brands with a BSI score of 92.3 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA+ brand strength rating. In addition, Sber has been named the strongest brand in Europe across all industries, having overtaken Ferrari in the brand strength classification of the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking.
The Russian banking and technology giant has recently launched new digital investor services such as portfolio selection and investment consulting on its mobile application. At the same time, Sber is continuing to develop a digital ecosystem for its variety of services that go beyond banking, now ranging from e-commerce and logistics, to telehealth and streaming. While relying on an impressive consumer base of more than 100 million, Sber is aiming to diversify further into a new demographic of Gen Z users with a new digital services offering.
Looking at both brand strength and brand value, Sber’s business diversification and brand extension strategy is simply working. The all-encompassing digital ecosystem is driving market research scores for customer familiarity, being widely available, and being easy to deal with, allowing the brand to place higher than Ferrari in the brand strength ranking. At the same time, Sber’s impressive brand value growth of 36% to US$12.8 billion has helped the Russian market leader climb 25 ranks in the brand value classification.Anastasia Kourovskaia, Executive Vice-President at Brand Finance