The health and effectiveness of the logistics industry is integral to the smooth operation of international trade, commerce, and transport, all of which were severely hampered last year by the global outbreak of COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, supply chain disruption proved a major obstacle - particularly where China was the manufacturer - with the nation hit first by the pandemic and heralding wider global challenges. Panic buying led to a boost to the logistics industry, particularly in the outbreak of the pandemic, however the realities of reduced demand for certain products, the implementation of social distancing and other COVID-safe procedures in warehouses, has posed challenges for brands.
That being said, this year the total value of the world’s top 25 most valuable logistics brands, according to the Brand Finance Logistics 25 2021 ranking, has increased from US$170.5 billion to US$177.1 billion.
Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:
“2020 was undoubtedly a tough year for the logistics sector. Widespread disruption to travel, working, and the rhythms of daily life have taken a toll globally. However, many brands have shown resilience and proactivity during the pandemic, with the most valuable brands clearly faring better than many may have anticipated, capitalising on increased reliance on delivery services with the move to working from home globally. This resilience is demonstrated in the total value of the world’s top 25 most valuable logistics brands recording a 4% uplift year-on-year.”
UPS retains top spot
The US continues to dominate the logistics sector, commandeering six spots in the top 10 and its nine brands in total accounting for 59% of the total brand value in the ranking.
UPS has claimed the top spot in the Brand Finance Logistics 25 2021 ranking for a 7th consecutive year, recording a modest 2% increase in brand value, to US$30.1 billion and maintaining its healthy lead over second-ranked FedEx (brand value up 2% to US$23.5 billion).
The giant was able to leverage its strong position in its rapid response to the pandemic, not only adopting stringent practices in its warehouses and distribution networks, but through The UPS Foundation, which gave US$6 million to numerous aid agencies and charities. The brand’s structural resilience, afforded by its size and longevity, have been key to its continued reign, particularly in the face of global disruption.
Uber drives 34% growth
Uber has retained third place, with its brand value jumping 34% to US$20.5 billion. Whilst the disruption of regular life has certainly impacted ride-share and delivery service operations, factors such as consumer weariness around public transport and increased reliance on delivery services, inured the brand against greater damage from the pandemic.
Uber has taken strong measures from the start of the crisis to minimise risk and aid those affected. At the beginning of the outbreak, Uber introduced a ‘no mask, no ride’ policy as a means to protect drivers as well as customers. They have also offered free rides and meals for frontline medical staff, as well as offering discounted and free rides to those getting COVID-19 vaccines in recent weeks.
The Californian giant has faced legal challenges globally, with a recent UK Supreme Court ruling stating that Uber must treat its staff as workers, thus entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay, rather than them being self-employed. How Uber responds to this will have a significant impact on the brand, including the relationship with its newly classified employees, customers who may see price jumps as a result, and its competitors who may fear the regulation spreading.
The food delivery arm of the brand - Uber Eats - has witnessed an exponential rise in demand as customers forced to stay home due to lockdown are turning to home delivery. The brand, which offers contact-free delivery options whereby a food delivery is conveniently left on your doorstep so as not to encourage contact between customer and delivery driver, has also entered the grocery delivery market too, capitalising once again on the stay-at-home orders of many governments worldwide.
SF Express delivers 54% growth
China’s SF Express, is the fastest growing brand in this year’s Brand Finance Logistics 25 2021 ranking, celebrating an impressive 54% brand value growth to US$7.0 billion and simultaneously jumping four spots in the ranking to 8th. The brand was praised by the Chinese government for its action in combatting COVID-19, including delivering supplies and offering free transport. SF Express continues to reap the rewards from its joint relationship with UPS, established in 2017, which has seen the two giants collaborate on international delivery services.
McLane is the fastest falling
Wholesale supply-chain services brand McLane is the fastest falling brand, recording a 25% brand value loss to US$4.4 billion. With one of the brand’s biggest customers being the US restaurants sector it is unsurprising that business has slowed over the last year, with some states completely shutting down in-restaurant dining.
MTR is sector’s strongest
In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. According to these criteria, MTR is once again the strongest logistics brand in the world, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 81.1 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA- brand strength rating.
Despite slowing demand as fewer customers have been using the service, MTR’s expansion of the rapid transit system is a promising sign, with completion due in the coming 18 months. The project will see a new signalling system, 9-car trains, and an expansion of the network across the region. The brand’s environmental commitments to increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions is another indication of its forward-looking approach, a key driver of the brand’s strength.
Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:
“MTR’s ongoing infrastructure projects, as well as its commitment to minimising environmental damage in its work, illustrate its positive and forward-thinking attitudes towards the future. It also signifies promise for the industry more broadly, demonstrating that demand is very much still present for transportation and sets hopes high for the years to come”.