Every year, leading branded business valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance puts thousands of the world’s top brands to the test. They are evaluated to determine which are the most powerful and the most valuable by country, by industry and against all other brands worldwide. The companies with the highest total value of brands under management can be found in the Brand Finance Portfolio 100.

apple-923955_960_720The total value of the table is US$3.2 trillion, half of which is from the 44 US companies which total US$1.68 trillion. 14 Chinese companies feature in the table, rendering it the country with the second highest number of portfolios. They make up US$347 billion of the total sum. Nine European Union countries make the table and are home to 29 brands, nine of which are UK-based – more than any other European country. The portfolio table lists the companies with the most brand value under their management. Some companies, like Apple, only include one highly valuable brand, while other companies, like Nestlé S.A., operate hundreds. Apple does operate more brands, however, due to their reporting, it is not possible to identify and value these sub-brands from their financial statements.

The fastest growing portfolio this year is Agricultural Bank of China, with a value of US$32.3 billion after enjoying 42% growth. China Construction Bank and ICBC make the top five, with values of US$35.4 billion and US$36.3 billion after rising 34% and 32%, respectively. China Construction Bank is in fact the world’s most powerful banking brand. Chinese banks are performing well on brand equity measures such as familiarity, consideration, recommendation and preference as a result of investing in their brands. It must be noted that none of the Chinese portfolios in the table dropped in value.

Unilever’s impactful innovations have boosted its performance. The launch of the new Axe range and the ‘Find Your Magic’ brand campaign appealed to a wider audience as it encouraged men to break free from assumptions about how they should behave and express themselves. Unilever grew 18% to a value of US$42.7 billion this year. Vodafone Group is the only other UK company to enjoy an increase in value this year, rising 2% to US$27.8 billion. It is no secret that smartphones are becoming increasingly prominent, and the growing proliferation of smartphones in both developed and emerging markets is the main driver behind a surge in data demand and revenue. Vodafone Group’s global presence positions it well to cater to the rising demand. Moreover, the oligopolistic nature of the industry coupled with Vodafone’s immense size gives the company a competitive edge amongst its peers.

With over 500 brands in its portfolio, Nestlé S.A. owns the largest number of brands in the table. It climbs up the ranks to seventh place after 14% growth to a value of US$66.6 billion. Accelerated growth in North America was largely due to the turnaround in frozen meals, whilst in Latin America, Nestlé cited instant coffee as the core reason for growth. Nestlé’s category dynamics and innovation, which can be seen in its range of bottled water, are also factors that contributed to its strong growth. Furthermore, an increase in health awareness in relation to carbonated drinks gave Nestlé the opportunity to promote its bottled water segment which other companies may have failed to embrace. Nestlé’s success is largely due to the range of product segments it provides, allowing it to more effectively overcome challenging global trends than its competitors.

Volkswagen Ag was the biggest faller in the table this year. Its portfolio value dropped 36% to US$42.2 billion. The latest emissions scandal negatively impacted Volkswagen. However, on a broader spectrum, the light vehicle industry – albeit growing at its slowest rate in the last decade, is forecasted to grow nonetheless. This is somewhat due to the upward surges in China, India and across continental Western Europe which compensate for reductions in Brazil, the US and the UK. Toyota Motor Corp, ranked 10th this year, conforms to the forecasted industry trend, enjoying a 30% increase in portfolio value to US$55.3 billion this year.