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South African brands fight back amid economic and geopolitical challenges

18 April 2023
This article is more than 1 year old.

View the full Brand Finance South Africa 100 2023 report here

MTN remains dominant as South Africa’s most valuable brand, valued at ZAR74.3 billion

Telecoms giant MTN (brand value up 24% to ZAR74.3 billion) is South Africa’s most valuable brand for the twelfth time in the past thirteen years, according to leading brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance.

Every year, Brand Finance puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test, and publishes over 100 reports, ranking brands across all sectors and countries. The world’s top 100 most valuable and strongest South African brands are included in the annual Brand Finance South Africa 100 2023 ranking.

MTN’s brand value continued to grow in 2023, meaning that its value is now up 50% from its pre-pandemic level. This is an impressive statistic considering the difficult operating conditions and the complex geopolitical environment that the brand has been faced with. MTN’s brand is worth just less than double the value of the second most valuable brand, Vodacom (brand value up 33% to ZAR39.8 billion).

Although Vodacom is not yet operating on the same scale as MTN, Brand Finance’s research found it is out-performing it in a number of key metrics surrounding customer satisfaction. These included consideration, usage, reputation, quality, and customer service.

Jeremy Sampson, Managing Director, Africa, Brand Finance commented: “It is invariably the case that when economic conditions are particularly challenging, strong brands show off their pedigree. As the world economy and South Africa recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic the brands that have continued to invest in their future are prospering."

Banking is the most valuable sector, up 28% in aggregate brand value 

A strong post-pandemic recovery has set South African banking brands up for impressive brand value growth in 2022. The sector now accounts for five brands in the top-ten of the ranking and is also the most valuable sector in the South Africa 100 2023 ranking, making up 24% of the total brand value. The combined brand value of the eleven banking brands included in the ranking was ZAR146.5 billion. This is ZAR25 billion more than the next most valuable sector, which was Telecoms (6 brands included in the ranking to combined brand value of ZAR121.5 billion).

Standard Bank (brand value up 27% to ZAR29.7 billion) is the third most valuable South African brand, making it the country’s most valuable banking brand for the second consecutive year. The bank’s 27% year-on-year growth has further widened the gap with First National Bank (brand value up 5% to ZAR26.1 billion) and Absa (brand value up 19% to ZAR25.3 billion) which sit in fourth and fifth in the ranking. Investec (brand value up 15% to ZAR16.8 billion) has risen three places to re-enter the top ten of the ranking.

Spar SA is the fastest growing South African brand, up 48%

Spar SA is the fastest growing South African brand, up 48% to a brand value of ZAR21.4 billion. Spar SA’s growth reflects a positive outlook for South African retail brands, despite difficult operating conditions over the past year. Spar SA opened 41 new stores in 2022 and was able to record 6% growth in revenue and increased forecast revenues.

Pick n Pay is the strongest brand, amongst seven South African brands to achieve elite AAA+ rating

In addition to calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Compliant with ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from over 100,000 respondents in 38 countries and across 31 sectors.

Retail brand Pick n Pay (brand value up 30% to ZAR13.5 billion) has become the strongest South African brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 94 out of 100 and corresponding AAA+ rating. Pick n Pay has seen a 14-point BSI increase year-on-year to clinch the top spot for brand strength. Astonishingly, it is one of seven South African brands to achieve the elite AAA+ rating, five of which came from the retail sector. For comparison, only twelve brands achieved AAA+ brand rating in Brand Finance’s ranking of the world’s top 500 most valuable and strongest brands - the Global 500 2023.

MTN has the highest Sustainability Perceptions Value, while Woolworths SA has the highest Sustainability Perceptions Score

As part of its analysis, Brand Finance assesses the role that specific brand attributes play in driving overall brand value. One such attribute, growing rapidly in its significance, is sustainability. Brand Finance assesses how sustainable specific brands are perceived to be, represented by a ‘Sustainability Perceptions Score’. The value that is linked to sustainability perceptions, the ‘Sustainability Perceptions Value’, is then calculated for each brand.

As well as being South Africa’s most valuable brand, MTN also has the highest Sustainability Perceptions Value (SPV) of any brand included in the South Africa 100 2023 ranking - ZAR8.6 billion. This indicates how much brand value MTN has tied up in sustainability perceptions (11.6%). The brand’s Sustainability Perception Score was 5.23 out of 10, the 10th highest in the ranking.

Woolworths SA (brand value up 25% to ZAR21.7 billion) has the highest Sustainability Perceptions Score in the ranking, 6.02 out of ten. Woolworths has long been recognised as a pioneering retailer in the sustainability field. Stakeholders resultantly gave it the highest Sustainability Perceptions Score, which equates to ZAR2 billion in value contribution to the brand.

Media Contacts

Penny Erricker
Communications Executive
Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined 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. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

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 Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings 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, while 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 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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