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China’s Big Banking Brands Boom, Study Reveals


• Chinese ICBC remains #1 brand, according to Brand Finance Banking 500
• China Construction Bank overtakes Wells Fargo for #2
• Total brand value of world’s 500 largest bank brands grows by 10.2% to US$1.18 trillion
• Sberbank in the world’s top two strongest brands boasting AAA+ rating
• QNB most valuable banking brand in the Middle East at US$4.2 billion

View the full list of the world’s 500 most valuable banking brands here

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) at US$59.2 billion and China Construction Bank at US$56.8 billion have taken out 1st and 2nd place respectively as the world’s most valuable bank brands for 2018, according to new research by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy, published in The Banker magazine. China Construction Bank rose from 3rd place to 2nd, overtaking US bank Wells Fargo at US$44.1 billion, which slipped to 3rd despite itself growing by 6%.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:
“Globally, the value of the world’s 500 biggest bank brands increased by 10.2% over the last year to US$1.18 trillion, with strong performance in many countries around the world. However, Chinese brands in the Brand Finance Banking 500 league table outperformed the global average with outstanding growth of 22%.”

Brian Caplen, Editor of The Banker, commented:
"While Chinese banks have increased their dominance of the ranking, there have been strong individual performances in both Europe, the US and the rest of Asia. The full ranking appears in the February issue of The Banker and includes a new Islamic finance brand ranking led by Dubai Islamic Bank."

Chinese Banks Dominate Top 10
The world’s most valuable bank brand, ICBC, was also awarded the highest-possible brand strength rating of AAA+. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, ICBC has enjoyed robust growth in the value of its brand, based upon a very strong foundation in the Chinese domestic market. In recent years, its domestic strength has served as a platform for global expansion.

Chinese bank brands dominated the top 10, with the Bank of China benefiting from a 34% increase to its brand value to US$41.8 billion, while the brand value of Agricultural Bank of China grew by 31% to US$37.3 billion. Meanwhile, American bank brands Chase (up 15% to US$38.8 billion) and Bank of America (up 10% to US$33.3 billion) saw good growth, but could not keep up with the booming Chinese bank brand values.

China extended its lead over the USA with the largest aggregate brand value of banks in the global top 500 listing, with Chinese bank brand values growing by 22% over the last year to a combined total of US$317 billion. This growth comes from just 45 Chinese banks, while the USA continues to host the largest number of bank brands in the global top 500 listing, with 76 such brands.

Bank Brands Under Threat From Technology Competitors
Bank brands may soon face competition from tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon in the broader financial services sector. Each have launched various consumer-facing financial services in recent years or are expected to do so this year. Tech brands represent new challenges to traditional banking services, as they are more aligned to modern customer expectations around instant multi-channel and multiplatform services.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:
“The big tech companies are already encroaching into areas traditionally supplied by banks such as payments and financing, and are backed by powerful brands. Facebook and Google already have brand strengths that rank above all banks. The big banks have been giants of their industry, with competition traditionally coming from within the banking sector. Now, challenger brands come from outside banking with great customer equity scores.”

Brian Caplen, Editor of The Banker, commented:
"Banks are focusing on their brand strength more than ever. Given the threat from tech companies, which is particularly strong in China, many banks have redoubled their efforts in the digital space combining new tech investments with a marketing strategy aimed at an on-line generation.”

Regional Leaders
Besides ICBC, the world’s only other AAA+ ranked bank brand is Sberbank of Russia. Sberbank is, like ICBC, focused on its domestic market. Recently, Sberbank announced new plans to combat the threat from technology competitors, including a blockchain investment lab. It is likely that Sberbank is well placed to confront these external competitors, with strong brand equity amongst its key stakeholders in Russia.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:
“Sberbank’s performance this year in both brand value and brand strength has been exemplary. The brand has solidified its pre-eminence in eyes of the Russian populace, scoring exceptionally well in the Brand Finance original consumer equity research that feeds into our valuations. As start-ups and tech ecosystems alike encroach on the financial services industry, Sberbank’s dominance as a brand will provide a solid foundation to adapt and thrive.”

European banks have performed moderately, with growth of 8% in big bank brand value over the last year, slightly below the global growth of 10.2%. The four most valuable bank brands in Europe all suffered mediocre performance, including HSBC (down 12% to US$18.3 billion), Santander (up 2% to US$16.2 billion), BNP Paribas (up 1% to US$13.7 billion), and Barclays (up 4% to US$13.5 billion). This makes Sberbank’s performance (up 28% to US$11.6 billion) in Russia even more remarkable.

In the Middle East, QNB saw its brand value grow 11% year on year to US$4.2 billion, defending its title as the Middle East's most valuable banking brand despite geopolitical challenges throughout the region. QNB consolidated acquisitions and continued to expand in international markets, both in in the Middle East and South East Asia.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:
“Amidst trying times for the reputation of the banking industry as a whole, QNB manages not only to attract customers in new markets such as South East Asia, but also to solidify its image among the existing customer base.”


Note to Editors

Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest brands. The 500 most valuable banking brands in the world are included in the Brand Finance Banking 500 league table and published in The Banker magazine.

Brand value is equal to a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand. Brand strength is used to determine what proportion of a business’s revenue is contributed by the brand.

More information about the methodology as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Banking 500 report.

Data compiled for the Brand Finance Banking 500 league table and report is provided for the benefit of the media and is not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

Media Contacts

Konrad Jagodzinski
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Sehr Sarwar
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M: +44 (0)7966963669

About Brand Finance
Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy, with offices in over 20 countries. Brand Finance bridges the gap between marketing and finance by quantifying the financial value of brands. Drawing on expertise in strategy, branding, market research, visual identity, finance, tax, and intellectual property, Brand Finance helps brand owners and investors make the right decisions to maximise brand and business value.

About The Banker
The Banker is the world's premier banking and finance resource, providing global financial intelligence since 1926, published by the Financial Times ltd. The Banker combines in-depth regional and country coverage reporting on capital markets, structured finance, risk management, working capital management and securities services, environmental finance, trade and project finance, trading, technology and management and governance issues. The Brand Finance Banking 500 is published in The Banker February edition, to find out more email or visit


Definition of Brand

Brand Finance helped to craft the internationally recognised standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668. It defines brand as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

Brand Strength

Brand Strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures, relative to its competitors. In order to determine the strength of a brand, we look at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of the brands in its league tables using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.

4 Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Brand revenues are discounted post-tax to a net present value which equals the brand value.


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