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Washington Brands Boast Highest Brand Value in the US

16 March 2021
This article is more than 3 years old.
  • With nearly US$500 billion of brand value located in the state, Washington ranks 3rd nationally behind only California and New York, according to the latest ranking of top 500 American brands
  • While Washington contributes only 9 brands to the top 500, their average brand value is higher than that of top brands anywhere in the United States, at over US$50 billion
  • Most valuable in Washington, Amazon also ranks 2nd among nation’s most valuable brands, behind Apple and ahead of Google
  • Starbucks leads as America’s most valuable restaurant chain, despite COVID-19 pressures

View the full Brand Finance US 500 2021 report here

Thanks to the presence of several corporate giants – such as Amazon (up 15% to US$254.1 billion), Microsoft (up 20% to US$140.4 billion) and Starbucks (down 6% to US$38.4 billion) – Washington’s cumulative brand value is considerably amplified, making it home to the most valuable brands on average out of all 50 States. Boasting a total brand value of US$477.8 billion combined, with just nine brands represented in the ranking, the average brand value of brands in Washington stands at US$54.0 billion while the national average in the Brand Finance US 500 ranking is only US$8.0 billion.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director, Brand Finance US, commented:

“With more than 500,000 companies either headquartered or with operations in the state, Washington has a rich tradition of fostering, nurturing and building many of the biggest brand names in the world. Washington's tax structure also allows successful businesses to grow and expand more quickly, offering companies in high-growth sectors additional incentives for job creation and innovation.”

Amazon thrives in 2020

Amazon remains the most valuable brand in Washington, ranking 2nd overall in the Brand Finance US 500 2021 ranking. Despite relinquishing its position at the top this year to Apple, the online retail giant is one of the few brands that benefitted considerably from the pandemic and the resulting unprecedented surge in demand as consumers turned online following store closures. Over Q2 and Q3 of 2020, e-commerce platforms experienced the highest revenue growth since 2016.

Most recently – further leveraging the circumstances of the pandemic – Amazon has acquired 11 passenger planes from struggling North American airlines to expand its air logistics capabilities. A tactical purchase to support its fast-growing customer base, but also a strategic move towards building its own end-to-end supply chain, the fleet can allow the brand to become a serious contender in air transportation in due time.

Another example of Amazon’s relentless innovation in the face of global adversity, the brand has also announced its foray into the health sector with the launch of Amazon Pharmacy and fitness tracker Halo. Before it brought success to Apple, daring diversification had already been the hallmark of Amazon’s growth strategy, which it continues to pursue with impressive results.

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation.

Amazon has maintained its position as the strongest Washingtonian brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.9 out of 100, also ranking as the nation’s 3rd strongest brand overall in the Brand Finance US 500 2021 ranking.

Laurence Newell, Managing Director, Brand Finance US, commented:

“Playing a crucial role in supporting a new economic mode in lockdown, Amazon has found itself at the center of attention more than ever before. With a revenue boost came reputational risks – between allegations regarding poor treatment of workers, negative coverage of his divorce and criticism for his apparent reluctance to use wealth for philanthropic goals, Mr. Bezos’ departure from direct leadership might be the best course of action for Amazon going forward to turn the public opinion’s view of the brand.”

Other Washingtonian brands on the most valuable list include Microsoft in second-place, Starbucks in 3rd, Costco (up 28% to US$28.8 billion) in 4th, Xbox (down 1% to US$5.4 billion) in 5th, Nordstrom (down 24% toUS$3.3 billion) ranking 6th, with Zillow (up 63% to US$3.1 billion), (down 25% to US$2.5 billion), and Fortive taking 7th, 8th and 9th place, respectively.

Zillow is the fastest-growing Washingtonian brand and claims a spot in the Brand Finance US 500 2021 top 300most valuable brands, placing 258th, while tech conglomerate Fortive is Washington’s fastest-falling brand, dropping 31% and 96 spots in the ranking to US$1.4 billion and 452nd place overall.

Starbucks leads as America’s most valuable restaurant chain

Despite being strongly affected by COVID-19 and posting net earnings of US$622.2 million for Q1 of its 2021 fiscal year – down 29.7% compared to the same quarter last year – Starbucks remains the world’s top restaurant brand, selling beverages, food, and other items in more than 32,900 stores across 83 markets globally. Founded in Seattle in 1971 and initially only selling roasted coffee beans, the chain was later bought by Howard Schultz who built the brand over nearly three decades into one of the most successful modern-day companies in the world.

View the full Brand Finance US 500 2021 report here


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, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organisations 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 nearly 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardisation 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 Value

Brand value refers to the present value of earnings specifically related to brand reputation. Organisations own and control these earnings by owning trademark rights.

All brand valuation methodologies are essentially trying to identify this, although the approach and assumptions differ. As a result, published brand values can be different.

These differences are similar to the way equity analysts provide business valuations that are different to one another. The only way you find out the “real” value is by looking at what people really pay.

As a result, Brand Finance always incorporates a review of what users of brands actually pay for the use of brands in the form of brand royalty agreements, which are found in more or less every sector in the world.

This is known as the “Royalty Relief” methodology and is by far the most widely used approach for brand valuations since it is grounded in reality.

It is the basis for our public rankings but we always augment it with a real understanding of people’s perceptions and their effects on demand – from our database of market research on over 3000 brands in over 30 markets.

Brand Valuation Methodology

For our rankings, Brand Finance uses the simplest method possible to help readers understand, gain trust in, and actively use brand valuations.

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.

Our Brand Strength Index assessment, a balanced scorecard of brand-related measures, is also compliant with international standards (ISO 20671) and operates as a predictive tool of future brand value changes and a control panel to help business improving marketing.

We do this in the following four steps:

1. Brand Impact

We review what brands already pay in royalty agreements. This is augmented by an analysis of how brands impact profitability in the sector versus generic brands.

This results in a range of possible royalties that could be charged in the sector for brands (for example a range of 0% to 2% of revenue).

2. Brand Strength

We adjust the rate higher or lower for brands by analysing Brand Strength. We analyse brand strength by looking at three core pillars: “Investment” which are activities supporting the future strength of the brand; “Equity” which are real perceptions sourced from our original market research and other data partners; “Performance” which are brand-related measures of business results, such as market share.

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.

3. Brand Impact x Brand Strength

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. Brand Value Calculation

We determine brand-specific revenues as a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to the brand in question and forecast those revenues by analysing historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

We then apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues and apply the relevant valuation assumptions to arrive at a discounted, post-tax 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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