Brand is one of the most valuable assets any company has and yet it is often the least focussed upon, especially in times of crisis. Brand building requires a very specific effort beyond just sales and marketing and running campaigns. It must be on the agenda of the board on a regular basis, yet most boards may not even be aware of the value of their brand or what drives the value up or down. Brand is an asset that represents up to 20-30% of the value of the company or even higher.
Every year, leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance puts thousands of the world’s top brands to the test, evaluating which are the most powerful (by brand strength) and the most valuable (by brand value). Now in its 13th year, Brand Finance has just published the latest Brand Finance Singapore 100 2021 report - the most definitive ranking based on the value of the brands.
Brand Finance’s rankings are also the world’s only rankings that have a triple certification for robustness of analysis and as an ROI measure – the ISO 10668 (for brand valuation), the ISO 20671 (for brand evaluation) and the certification by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) through the Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP), the formal process for validating the relationship between marketing measurement and financial performance.
Formidable and dominant top three
The top three banks – DBS, OCBC, and UOB – have been performing well for many years and continue to dominate the ranking. DBS remains in a league of its own with a brand value of US$7.8 billion, despite recording an 8% drop in brand value. OCBC (down 6% to US$4.6 billion) and UOB (down 15% to US$4.0 billion) follow in second and third positions, respectively.
These three banks contribute 38% of the total brand value in the Brand Finance Singapore 100 2021 ranking, up marginally from 37% last year.
Focus on brand strength
In addition to measuring overall 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. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.
The average Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of the top 100 most valuable Singaporean brands has increased marginally from 61.5/100 last year to 61.8/100 in 2021. Most brands, however, have remained stagnant in brand strength, and while they may be doing well locally, they have been losing out to some of the key competitors in the region as they lack competitiveness outside of the Singapore market.
This year, DBS has replaced Singtel (down 17% to US$3.2 billion) as the nation’s strongest brand, with a BSI score of 87.1 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating. Despite relinquishing the top spot, Singtel still retains its AAA brand strength rating, the only other brand in the ranking to do so.
Tiger and Olam have both broken into the top 10 this year for the first time, pushing out CapitaLand (down 13% to US$887 million) and ComfortDelGro (down 24% to US$759 million) out. Tiger has recorded an impressive 25% brand value increase to US$911 million and simultaneously has jumped 10 spots in the ranking to 9th this year. Olam has jumped 5 spots in the ranking to 10th following a 13% brand value increase to US$897 million. Tiger and Olam are the only two brands in the top 10 that have recorded brand value increases.
MindChamps is the highest new entrant into the ranking in 58th place, with a brand value of US$58 million.
There are four further new entrants this year, including: AEM (brand value US$24 million) in 77th, Creative (brand value US$8 million) in 97th, UG Healthcare (brand value US$8 million) in 98th and MoneyMax (brand value US$7 million) in 100th.
Unless companies have a strong brand agenda and are managing the strength and value of their brands in a concentrated manner, we will continue to see large year-on-year variations in brand value and brand strength in the Brand Finance Singapore 100 2021 ranking. The big problem is the brand is left to a few people in the organisation to manage and is never a serious agenda for the board”. This is clear as most of the top management or the boards have no brand KPIs for themselves or their firms. Most Singaporean brands are typically very communications focussed and misunderstand their campaigns – which are mostly digital these days - to be brand building initiatives, and that’s where they miss the big picture about the brand.Samir Dixit, Manging Director of Brand Finance Asia Pacific
Samir Dixit challenges that “Singaporean companies should be more brand-driven and not sales or offers-driven as this destroys the long-term value and the strength of the brand. Brand has to be a strategic agenda for the senior management and boards and must be managed like any other business asset and not just a legal trademark.”
“The banking sector continues to dominate the nation, making up 40% of the total brand value in the ranking. As Singapore further develops, we expect consolidation in the banking sector, so it will be interesting to see which brands remain. Banks who can digitalise and remain relevant will be the ones which will win.”
Samir highlighted that “Singaporean brands will likely face strong headwinds ahead as they lose out to some other brands in the region in terms of brand competitiveness and value growth. It is the brand strength for most brands that still remains a concern and also a significant risk. Brands must recognise this work towards mitigating it.”
Samir Dixit further commented that “The rankings still remain very top heavy raising further concern as the top 10 contributes over 62% of the total brand value. We would like to see more diverse mix at the top and a more significant value increase at the bottom, meaning other brands must start focussing on their brand value and strength.”