In the Middle East, energy and telecom giants grabbed the top positions in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 report, an annual ranking of the most valuable brands.
The report evaluates about 5,000 of the biggest brands in the world every year and ranks them according to strength, value, sectors and countries.
Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian public oil and natural gas company, has retained its position as the most valuable brand of the region, with the report valuing the oil giant of the Kingdom at $37.5 billion.
“Aramco is the hidden giant of the oil industry whose brand has finally emerged into the light of public attention. It has always been known as a b2b (business to business) brand but has aspirations to become a well-known consumer brand. At present, its scale is huge, but its brand equity is at an early stage of development. We believe that over the next decade the brand will grow from strength to strength as it enters the world stage.”
ADNOC breezes through a difficult year
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) was the region’s second-most valuable brand, confirming the dominance of the oil industry, despite the ambitions of governments to diversify GCC (Gulf Countries Cooperation) economies away from hydrocarbon dependence.
According to the report, although Aramco maintained its number one spot, despite a 20 percent drop in brand value, ADNOC has managed to successfully sustain its brand value through a difficult year, with just a 6 percent drop to $10.8 billion, making it the most resilient of all national oil companies in the rankings.
Mr. Haigh pointed out that, “ADNOC plays a critical role driving local industry growth, supporting Abu Dhabi’s soft power position globally and advancing the UAE’s sustainable economic development goals. ADNOC’s enduring brand strength reflects the strength of its reputation as an industry leader in both cost and carbon efficient oil production, a critical driver of innovation and technology in the UAE and a partner of choice for local and international investors.”
In the top 500
Saudi telecoms company STC (189th and valued at $9.15 billion), UAE’s Etisalat (208th and valued at $8.533 billion), Qatar National Bank (321st and valued at $6.107 billion), Dubai’s Emirates airline (421st and valued at $4.669 billion) and SABIC petrochemical firms (495th and valued at $4.017 billion) are other Middle Eastern brands in the top 500.
In terms of brand strength, Etisalat emerged as the Middle East’s strongest brand for the first time, overtaking Emirates airlines, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 87.4 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA rating becoming the only brand in the region to achieve this, according to the report. This puts Etisalat among the top 25 brands globally for BSI.
Globally, the iPhone maker Apple overtook eCommerce giant Amazon to become the world’s most valuable brand for the first time in five years. Apple’s brand value jumped 87 percent to $263.4 billion, as it reaped the rewards of its diversification strategy beyond the iPhone, according to Brand Finance.
“Steve Jobs’ legacy continues to flow through Apple, with innovation built into the brand’s DNA,” Mr. Haigh said. “We are witnessing it ‘Think Different’ once again. From Mac to iPod, to iPhone, to iPad, to Apple Watch, to subscription services, to infinity and beyond.”
US-based Apple was followed by tech mammoths like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung as the top five most valuable brands globally. American electric car maker Tesla’s brand value shot up 158 percent to $32 billion, making it the fastest-growing brand in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking.
In another triumph for tech companies, China’s messaging app WeChat overtook Italian luxury car manufacturer Ferrari to become world’s strongest brand with a top score of 95.4 out of 100 an AAA+ brand strength rating.
Airline and aerospace companies accounted for 6 out of the 10 fastest-falling brands in the ranking as the pandemic pushed the industry into the worst crisis in its history.
Hospitality suffered from travel and dining restrictions during the pandemic, as Marriott and Airbnb reports showed while restaurant chains like Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC saw their brand values drop. The world’s most valuable hotel brand, Hilton, registered a 30 percent drop in brand value to $7.6 billion.