DBS, OCBC, UOB again sweep top three spots as Singapore's most valuable brands

ATM machines from UOB, DBS and OCBC Bank, at Changi Airport terminal 2.
ATM machines from UOB, DBS and OCBC Bank, at Changi Airport terminal 2.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - DBS, with S$7.37 billion in brand value, held on to top place as Singapore's most valuable brand for the fifth year running, according to an annual ranking by consultancy Brand Finance.

OCBC and UOB again finished second and third respectively with brand values of S$4.97 billion and S$4.93 billion. Notably, UOB was the most improved brand, gaining in value by S$1.19 billion to narrow the gap with OCBC.

Brand Finance said the three local banks have been performing well for a number of years and there are no contenders now capable of challenging them for the top three spots.

"We see the more aggressive moves from the banks particularly in mergers & acquisitions, with DBS acquiring 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 CEO 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 their way into the top 10, replacing Sembcorp and Keppel, both hit by the slump in the shipping industry over the last two years.

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

Source: Brand Finance

The Big Three banks contributed 30 per cent of the total brand value in Singapore, up from 27 per cent last year.

"The growth is in line with other financial brands around the world but we wish to see a more diverse mix at the top," said Mr Haigh.

The Singapore top 100 brand ranking  remains very top heavy - the top 10 brands contribute 57 per cent of the total value while the bottom 50 account for only 7 per cent.

Mr Samir Dixit, managing director of Brand Finance Asia Pacific, also highlighted that while Singapore brands have grown considerably  in value overall, brand strength for 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 1 in 2016," he added.

Singapore Airlines was named the strongest brand, with a triple-A brand rating, along with DBS and OCBC. However, it is also the only brand in the top 10 to lose brand value due to weaker business performance.

Mr Dixit also challenged the Singapore companies to be more brand-driven and not sales or offers-driven.

"These while help sell in the short term, might destroy the long term value and the strength of the brand," he said. "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."