DBS has retained its position as the most valuable Singapore brand for the seventh year in 2019 with an increase of brand strength, according to an annual report by brand valuation and brand strategy consultancy Brand Finance.
The total value of the top 100 Singapore brands in 2019 has increased to US$53.3 billion, up 18% from US$45.0 billion in 2018. Top 10 brands contribute 64% of the total brand value while the bottom 50 contribute only 4%, said the report. The three banks in the top three positions have contributed 38% of the total brand value in Singapore, up from 31% last year. The growth, according to the consultancy, is in line with other financial brands around the world.
Similar to previous years, the three local banks – DBS, UOB and OCBC – have been performing, taking the lead way ahead of others this year. Notably, UOB managed to swap places with OCBC this year to come in second with a brand value of US$5.66 billion. OCBC followed behind with a brand value of US$5.65 billion. “It’s unlikely that DBS, with US$ 9.0 billion brand value, will be dethroned from the top of the Top 100 Most Valuable Singapore Brands table for a while unless OCBC or UOB go for a big acquisition,” said Brand Finance.
Meanwhile, in terms of brand strength, Changi Airport is named the strongest brand in 2019 alongside four other brands with a triple-A brand rating, namely DBS, UOB, OCBC, and Singtel. Comparing to last year, OCBC regained its triple-A brand rating while Singapore Airlines lost its triple-A brand rating.
Brand strength is measured through marketing investment, brand equity (the goodwill accumulated with customers, staff and other stakeholders), and the impact of those on business performance. Overall, the average Brand Strength Index of the top 100 brands has reduced from 74.9 last year to 62.4 this year. “Most brands however have remained stagnant in terms of their 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 Singapore market,” shared Brand Finance.
Meanwhile, ComfortDelGro has made its way into the top 10 with a brand value growth of 9%, after missing it by a narrow margin in 2018. It replaced Starhub in the top 10. Starhub’s brand value declined 13% as it operates in an “increasingly competitive industry with new entrants”. Sembcorp finished at 11th place, rising from 14th the previous year with a brand value growth of 21%, largely driven by its positive business performance in 2018.
Samir Dixit, managing director of Brand Finance Asia Pacific said unless companies have a strong brand agenda and are managing the strength of their brand and the brand value in a concentrated manner, large year-on-year variations in brand value, brand strength and brand rankings will continue. He explained:
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 clearly evident from the fact that most of the top management or the boards have no Brand KPI for themselves or their firms. Most Singapore brands are typically very communications focused and misunderstand their campaigns (mostly digital these days) to be brand building initiative,” added Dixit.
Moving forward, Dixit challenges Singapore companies to be more brand-driven. He said sales or offer-driven initiatives destroy 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,” said Dixit.