Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Three major SA banks appear this year on the authoritative Brand Finance Most Valuable Global Banking Brands survey, and all have moved up on last year’s ranking.

Standard Bank tops the SA list at 130 out of 500 institutions and has improved its position by four places. Absa is placed 144, up from 158, and Capitec shows the biggest jump — from 347 to 311.

The survey, conducted in 2016, also finds that FNB is the strongest SA bank in terms of overall public brand perception, while RMB is SA’s fastest-growing banking brand, at 49%.

Nigerian-based Ecobank has lost 51% of its brand value in the past 12 months. 

A local brand marketer working in the financial services space says:

“These numbers give a clear indication of how banks are generally perceived and importantly, how they relate to customers in terms of delivery, innovation and market likeability — not always an easy thing in a competitive sector in which efficiencies are hard to achieve.”

Standard Bank’s brand value is estimated at just over US$1.5bn, up from $1.3bn. That’s an increase of 15%. Absa’s brand value has increased by 31% from just over $1bn to $1.3bn, while Capitec has a similar increase in brand value, at $367m, from $285m.

For the first time the combined brand value of China’s lenders has surpassed that of the US. China’s bank brands account for 24% ($258bn) of the total brand value of the survey while the US accounts for 23%. Brand Finance’s research shows China’s consumers demonstrate a lack of cynicism, an affinity for brands and economic patriotism that gives their banks a solid foundation that Western banks cannot hope to match.

Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh says: “Chinese banks are being carried along in the slipstream of its industrial giants as they grow and expand into international markets. Facilitating international deals boosts revenues but more importantly, enables the banks to build their reputations with potential clients across the world.”

Already the world’s biggest bank by assets, ICBC’s brand value has grown 32% year-on-year while China Construction Bank and Bank of China are also growing strongly (by 17% and 13% respectively).

“The success of the Chinese banks comes at the expense of Wells Fargo, which has lost its position as the world’s most valuable banking brand,” says Haigh. “Wells Fargo has been the architect of its own misfortune. Its fake accounts scandal has seen its reputation take a hit, with downgraded revenue forecasts contributing to a 6% brand value fall.”

The situation for Europe’s banks is worse still. The most valuable bank brands from the UK, France, Germany and Italy (HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Intesa Sanpaolo) have all declined in brand value. Deutsche’s brand value is down 41% while HSBC has declined by 5%.

Banks take the results seriously. Says one local marketing executive: “While this is not the final arbiter of our success, in an age of service parity, brand value and perception are vital differentiators in the sector. Increasing value means increasing business.”

The survey takes into account a number of attributes including emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability.

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