Apple has retained the title of the world’s and United States’ most valuable brand following a 35% increase to US$355.1 billion – the highest brand value ever recorded in the Brand Finance US 500 2022 ranking.
Apple had a stellar 2021, highlighted by its achievement at the start of 2022 – being the first company to reach a US$3 trillion market valuation. The tech giant’s success historically lied in honing its core brand positioning, but its more recent growth can be attributed to the company’s recognition that its brand can be applied effectively to a much broader range of services.
The iPhone still accounts for around half of the brand’s sales. However, this year saw Apple give more attention to its other suite of products with a new generation of iPads, an overhaul to the iMac, and introduction of AirTags. Its range of services, from Apple Pay to Apple TV, has also gone from strength to strength and become of increasing importance to the brand’s success.
Apple commands an amazing level of brand loyalty, largely thanks to its reputation for quality and innovation. Decades of hard work put into perfecting the brand have seen Apple become a cultural phenomenon, which allows it to not only compete, but thrive in a huge number of markets. With rumours abounding of its foray into electric vehicles and virtual reality, it seems it is ready for a new leap.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance
Amazon and Google also saw good levels of growth, both keeping their spots in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking behind Apple in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Amazon joined Apple in crossing the US$300 billion brand value mark with a 38% increase to US$350.3 billion, navigating global supply chain issues and a labour shortage in the process. Since June 2021, it has hired 133,00 new employees and recently announced plans to hire a further 125,000 hourly workers in anticipation of continued growth.
Amazon sees logistics as key, developing its own end-to-end supply chain through a growing fleet of trucks, vans, and aeroplanes. Across 2020 and 2021, the brand has invested an estimated US$80 billion in its logistics division, compared to a combined US$58 billion in the previous five years.
Google saw a similar brand value growth of 38% to US$263.4 billion. The brand relies on advertising for the vast majority of its revenue, and was hurt at the start of the pandemic as advertising spend dropped due to uncertainty. However, as the world adjusted to the new normal, and with people spending more and more time online, advertising budgets opened back up and Google’s business rebounded, resulting in a healthy uplift in brand value.
New media surge over pandemic changes media brand landscape
With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect across the globe throughout 2021, digital entertainment, social media, and streaming services saw continued growth, highlighting how media consumption is changing. Snapchat is the fastest-growing media brand in the Brand Finance US 500 ranking, with its brand value increasing by an impressive 184% to US$6.6 billion. In the first nine months of 2021, Snapchat saw increased daily usage and revenues grow by 77%, with the popularity of its short-form video feature, Spotlight, being a key driver.
Fellow social media brand, Twitter, was the second-fastest growing in the ranking at 85% bringing its brand value up to US$5.7 billion. Brands that offer streaming services were other notable performers from the sector, with Disney (brand value up 11% to US$57.0 billion), Netflix (brand value up 18% US$29.4 billion), YouTube (brand value up 38% to US$23.9 billion), and IHEARTMEDIA (brand value up 75% to US$1.8 billion) all seeing increases.
In stark contrast, traditional media brands have seen a continued decline, with people favouring social media platforms and on-demand streaming services in their place. Warner Bros is among the fastest-falling brands in the ranking this year (brand value down 33% to US$6.8 billion), and this trend is even more apparent when comparing this year with pre-pandemic valuations. Looking at brand value change over the last two years of COVID-19, four media brands feature among the 10 fastest-falling brands in the ranking – Warner Bros saw the biggest brand value loss at 40%, with NBC (brand value US$9.4 billion) falling by 38%, CBS (brand value US$7.4 billion) down by 36% and TNT (US$ 1.8 billion) by 33%.
Media consumption has increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but – what is more – the way we consume it has irrevocably changed. In order to compete in this evolving marketplace, media organisations have invested heavily in their brands – from content acquisition through to user experience.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance
Tech remains most valuable sector
The tech sector is once again the most valuable in the Brand Finance US 500 2022 ranking, with a cumulative brand value of US$987.4 billion. Technology and tech brands have become of ever-increasing importance in the modern world, a trend that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 69 tech brands feature in the ranking, however, the brand value is largely attributable to two brands, with Apple and Microsoft (brand value up 31% to US$184.2 billion) accounting for more than 50% of the total brand value in the sector. Microsoft saw continued growth thanks to the reliance on both its cloud services and software throughout the pandemic, and also stepped up its already heavy presence in the gaming arena with its recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard (brand value US$6.5 billion), its largest ever deal.
Semiconductor brands AMD (brand value up 122% to US$6.0 billion) and Nvidia (brand value up 100% to US$16.0 billion) are the fastest-growing brands in the sector, both seeing impressive growth. A rise in gaming, cryptocurrency mining and artificial intelligence, coupled with the global chip supply shortage, saw demand for both brand’s products remain high throughout the year, leading to increased revenues.
Retail continues to thrive
Alongside Amazon’s dominance of the retail sector, Walmart, continued to see brand value growth with a 20% increase in brand value to US$111.9 billion. The brand already had a top-tier physical presence, and at the start of the pandemic it invested in its e-commerce capabilities – which has continued to pay dividends. Recognising the importance of this, it expanded the use of its technology to pick and pack customers online grocery orders in anticipation of the demand for pickup and delivery to continue past the pandemic.
The trend of brand value growth for retailers that stepped up their e-commerce operations is further reflected by Safeway (brand value up 43% to US$5.5 billion), Kohl’s (brand value up 37% to US$5.0 billion), Target (brand value up 37% to US$28.3 billion) and Costco (brand value up 30% to US$37.5 billion) which all saw impressive increases.
The initial impression of lockdown may have been that retail would suffer, but those that have shown the agility to adapt and utilise technology have impressed with solid gains. The transformation of the industry to meet its customer’s evolving needs has sown the seeds for both short and long term prosperity.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance
The largest retail brand behind Amazon and Walmart, Home Depot performed strongly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to see positive brand value growth this year, up 6% to US$56.3 billion. The brand saw an uplift in revenue when COVID-19 restrictions were introduced, with people spending more on home improvement. However, as the economy opened back up and restrictions eased, Home Depot saw its year-on-year revenue growth slow in 2021, suggesting this trend won’t continue.
Pharma brands see healthy growth
Pharma brands have been in the limelight since the start of the pandemic as the world turned to the sector for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. As a result, unsurprisingly, the sector has seen impressive growth in the Brand Finance US 500 ranking this year.
All ten brands featured in the ranking from the sector are more valuable than they were in 2020, with those involved with the production of COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments being among the best performers. Johnson & Johnson remains the most valuable with a 24% brand value increase to US$13.4 billion, with fellow vaccine creator Pfizer seeing a 58% increase in brand value to US$6.3 billion, making it the second fastest-growing in the sector. Eli Lilly and Company, which developed an antibody treatment for patients in the early stages of COVID-19, saw the fastest growth in the sector with its brand value increasing by 62% to US$3.4 billion.
The production of effective vaccines has been integral to getting the global economy back on its feet. As jabs have been rolled out, the world has been able to come back to a semblance of normality – this has resulted in not only an increase in revenues, but improved global awareness and reputation for brands in the sector.
David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance
Looking to the future, a major brand evolution is expected in the sector due to the trend in the industry for the separation of pharmaceutical and consumer health divisions, as Johnson & Johnson is currently doing. Understanding the strengths and value of each part of the brand will be key to ensuring the retention of the considerable brand equity that has been built up in the combined business.
Oil and gas sector rebounds
The oil and gas sector has started to rebound from the devastating impact COVID-19 had on the sector. As lockdown restrictions lifted and vaccinations were rolled out throughout 2021, the sector started to see the demand for oil and gas products increase, with many seeing improved year-on-year revenues as a result. This is reflected in the Brand Finance US 500 2022 ranking, where oil and gas brands account for four of the top 10 fastest growing brands in the ranking.
New entrant to the ranking, Devon, led the way and was named the fastest-growing brand in the entire ranking, with its brand value jumping an astounding 199% to US$2.3 billion. At the start of 2021 the Oklahoma-based brand completed a merger with WPX Energy which allowed it to scale up its operations and make efficiency gains, as the brand aims to prioritise free cash flow growth to help insulate itself from future price volatility in the market.
Joining Devon in the top 10 fastest-growing brands in the ranking are fellow new entrants Pbf Energy (brand value up 181% to US$1.6 billion) and Plains All American (brand value up 144% to US$2.8 billion), with Pioneer Natural (brand value up 135% to US$3.1 billion) completing the line up.
Victoria’s Secret falls
Victoria’s Secret is the fastest-falling brand in the Brand Finance US Global 500 2022 following a 35% decline in its brand value, down to US$2.7 billion. The brand has struggled to adapt to changing consumer tastes and societal attitudes, and increased competition from brands more aligned with customer demands has seen the apparel brand fall out of fashion.
Aware of the need to overhaul its image, Victoria’s Secret rebranded in 2021, dropping the Victoria’s Secret Angels in favour of a more diverse cast of brand ambassadors, the VS Collective. However, the lukewarm reception to the brands efforts signal that it may be too little, too late.David Haigh, Chairman & CEO, Brand Finance
Coca-Cola retains strongest brand title
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 over 35 countries and across nearly 30 sectors.
According to these criteria, Coca-Cola retained the title of the strongest brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 93.3 out of 100 and a corresponding elite AAA+ rating. While continuing to offer its well-loved core product, the brand is investing in lower sugar variants such as Coke Zero to cater to changing consumer needs. At the same time, Coca-Cola has made a strategic decision to leverage e-commerce to ensure brand availability in the era of interrupted supply chains.
A digital advertisement campaign focusing on celebration of life and shared experiences – ‘Together Tastes Better’ – was launched at the height of the pandemic to promote home consumption of Coca-Cola beverages. This has been supported by the development of the myCoke mobile application and myCoke digital wallet enable online orders and delivery of Coca Cola products.
State write up
When breaking the results of the Brand Finance US 500 2022 ranking down by state, California comes out on top, with its brands having a combined brand value of US$1.4 trillion – more than double the figure of any other state. California has the highest number of brands featured in the ranking at 88, and the impressive figure is further helped by the global brands that reside there – with Apple (brand value US$355.0 billion), Google (brand value US$263.4 billion), Facebook (brand value US$101.2 billion) and Disney (brand value US$57.1 billion) all calling The Golden State home.
Washington has claimed the title of the fastest-growing state, with the combined brand value of brands form The Evergreen State climbing 33% to US$641.7 billion. The impressive growth of brands in Washington has seen it leapfrog Arkansas and move into 2nd place behind California. Washington is home to four of the top 15 brands in the ranking – Amazon (brand value US$350.3 billion), Microsoft (brand value US$184.2 billion), Starbucks (brand value US$45.7 billion) and Costco (brand value US$37.5 billion) – but its performance is truly impressive given it only has 10 brands in total.