British brands are being urged to focus less on short-term sales and invest more in long-term brand building as their value growth and capacity to innovate slips further behind the rest of the world.

Kantar’s 2019 BrandZ ranking of the UK’s 75 most valuable brands reveals more brands are now declining in value than are growing. Thirty-three brands increased their value by an average of 13% in 2019, while one brand showed no change (Mini) and 38 brands declined in value, by an average of 12%.

This means there has been an overall year-on-year decline of 3% in the UK – well behind the growth rates of both the global economy, which is up 3.7%, and BrandZ’s Top 100 most valuable global brands, which increased 7%.

Vodafone remains the UK’s most valuable brand, worth $26.5bn, followed by HSBC on $23.2bn and Shell on $20.bn.

Yet while these three brands continue to contribute much of the top 75’s combined value of $263.3bn, this is more to do with their financial strength, rather than because they are doing well in brand equity terms.

If their value continues to slide on the downward trajectory it is on, it is likely these brands will drop out of the global ranking within the next five years, meaning UK brands will disappear from the global ranking completely.

Rank Brand Value YoY growth
1 Vodafone $26.5bn -8%
2 HSBC $23.2bn -2%
3 Shell $20.7bn +2%
4 BP $13.2bn +12%
5 BT $12.2bn -11%
6 Sky $10.1bn -16%
7 Tesco $9.2bn +1%
8 Lipton $9.1bn +5%
9 Dove $6.5bn +8%
10 Barclays $5.7bn -10%
Brand value is determined by multiplying a brand’s financial value with its brand contribution – the proportion of financial value generated by its ability to increase purchase volume and charge premium.

Risers, newcomers and dropouts

Deliveroo, Costa Coffee and BrewDog are growing in value faster than any other UK brand in 2019, showing that speed, convenience, standout customer experience and communications can make all the difference at a time when consumer spending and marketing are being impacted by austerity and – Britain’s favourite word – uncertainty.

Over the last 12 months, Deliveroo has increased its value by 54% to $1.4bn, putting it at number 50 in the rankings, while Costa Coffee’s value is up 48% to $1.5bn, no doubt boosted by Coca-Cola’s acquisition of the brand at the beginning of the year.

BrewDog is the next fastest riser, up 40% to $1.2bn, followed by Ocado and Innocent which both saw 35% year-on-year growth.

The sheer profile of UK brands has bolstered their success thus far, but this is not sustainable without meaningful difference.

Martin Guerrieria, BrandZ

There were three newcomers to the top 75 as well. WHSmith has joined the ranking in 68th place with a value of $732m, Aston Martin at number 69 with a value of $718m and Halifax at number 70 and a value of $701m.

This means three brands have been bumped from the list – Superdry, Bellway and Berkeley.

Some of the brands with the biggest declines in value include William Hill, which was down 31%; Land Rover down 30%; John Lewis and Jaguar, which both saw their value fall 27%; British Gas, down 20%; and Marks & Spencer, which fell by 18%.

Martin Guerrieria, global BrandZ research director, says the latest ranking is a “call to arms” for brand-building and a warning to UK brands that have been over-reliant on their fame.

“Economic uncertainty has led to a lack of investment in long term brand building, and a focus on short-term outcomes such as driving sales,” Guerriera says.

“The sheer profile of UK brands has bolstered their success thus far, but this is not sustainable without meaningful difference, which can only be created through brand building. To avoid losing more ground, brands must reinvigorate their offer and revitalise their connection with consumers – building on their salience to prove their continued relevance.”

Complacency is going to be a killer for some of those big brands if you’re not investing.

Martin Guerriera, BrandZ

Guerriera cites Kraft Heinz as an example of a brand that was complacent and didn’t spend enough to retain its relevance with consumers.

“That relevance factor and guarding against complacency is critical,” he says. “What we’re trying to do here is say to these big valuable UK brands: be careful. It’s easy to say times are changing but we are starting to see some of those disruptive brands become more high-profile and complacency is going to be a killer for some of those big brands if you’re not investing.”

Kraft Heinz is in 57 varieties of trouble

Indicative of the shape of the UK market, services and retail brands dominate the top 75, with 25 telecom providers, 16 banks, 13 energy providers and 12 retailers accounting for 67% of the total value.

Tesco, at number seven, is the UK’s top retail brand, worth $9.16bn, followed by Next at 22, Asda at 23, Sainsbury’s at 24, and Marks & Spencer at 27. John Lewis comes in at 66 in the rankings with a value of $800m – only slightly ahead of newcomer WHSmith.

However, UK retail still lags far behind the global market and grew its value by just 3% in 2019, compared with the 25% recorded globally. Another sign that speed and convenience are key drivers of growth, if Ocado and Very – another fastest riser, up 21% year on year – were taken out of the mix, the UK retail market would actually be down 1%.

“The UK is a phenomenal market to be associated with, and there’s a huge opportunity for brands to grow, even in these challenging times,” says Jane Bloomfield, chief growth officer at Kantar UK.

“Consumers’ habits and attitudes have changed – they demand convenience and a great experience, and they’ve become more price sensitive. Brands mustn’t lose touch with this; if they do, they’ll be at risk from disruptors who can deliver everything consumers want. Brands need to understand and adapt to evolving needs and expectations, in order to stand apart from the competition and give people a reason to buy.”

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