Banks take top spots in brand ranking

DBS Bank held on to top place as Singapore's most valuable brand for the fifth year running. In third place, UOB was the most improved brand, gaining in brand value by US$856 million to narrow the gap with OCBC.
DBS Bank held on to top place as Singapore's most valuable brand for the fifth year running. In third place, UOB was the most improved brand, gaining in brand value by US$856 million to narrow the gap with OCBC.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

DBS is S'pore's most valuable brand, followed by OCBC and UOB

Singapore's Big Three banks made another clean sweep of the top spots in a ranking of the country's most valuable brands.

But what stood out was a warning that companies here have remained stagnant in terms of their brand strength - while they may be doing well locally, they have been losing out to rivals in the region.

The findings came from Brand Finance, which puts thousands of the world's top brands to the test every year, evaluating which are the most powerful and valuable.

DBS Bank held on to top place as Singapore's most valuable brand for the fifth year running.

OCBC and United Overseas Bank again placed second and third respectively. UOB was also the most improved brand, gaining in brand value by US$856 million (S$1.18 billion) to narrow the gap with OCBC.

"We see the more aggressive moves from the banks particularly in mergers and acquisitions, with DBS acquiring the wealth and retail business of ANZ in five markets and OCBC acquiring National Australia Bank and Barclays wealth business in Singapore and Hong Kong," said Mr David Haigh, group chief executive officer of Brand Finance.

"These will provide a boost to the brands' values after the business integration and we expect the top three spots will continue to be dominated by the banks next year."

ComfortDelGro and Genting Singapore, which saw their brand value grow 12 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, made the top 10, replacing Sembcorp and Keppel, both hit by the shipping industry slump.

CapitaLand's brand value surged 69 per cent, but it just missed the top 10 list, finishing in 11th place.

The Singapore top 100 brand ranking remains very top heavy. The three banks contributed 30 per cent of total brand value, up from 27 per cent last year. The top 10 brands contributed 57 per cent of total value while the bottom 50 accounted for only 7 per cent.

Mr Samir Dixit, managing director of Brand Finance Asia Pacific, highlighted that while Singapore brands have grown considerably in value terms, brand strength remains a concern for most.

The average strength of Singapore's top 100 brands, as measured by a Brand Finance index, dropped from 60.3 in 2016 to 59.6 this year.

"The brands 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 the Singapore market," said Mr Dixit.

"What's extremely alarming is that the BBB-rated brands have increased to a whopping 13 in total, up from one in 2016," he added.

Singapore Airlines was named the strongest brand, with a triple-A brand rating, along with DBS and OCBC.

However, it was also the only brand in the top 10 to lose brand value owing to a weaker business performance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Banks take top spots in brand ranking'. Print Edition | Subscribe