FNB at the Mall of the South in Johannesburg. Picture: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
FNB at the Mall of the South in Johannesburg. Picture: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

First National Bank has again outperformed its rivals by recording a brand value of $2.7bn in the fourth Kantar BrandZ ranking of SA’s most valuable brands.

Vodacom has moved up the ranking into second place, with $2.57bn, and beer brand Castle holds steady at No 3, with $2.52bn.

Kantar says brand value seems to be on the road to recovery. The cumulative value of the ranking this year is $28.8bn. It’s a slight decline of 3% from $29.7bn in 2020, but the rate of decline has slowed significantly since the huge drop of 2018. This indicates the reversal of a long-term trend of steep erosion.

Kantar says FNB’s repeat performance as top brand is the result of its considerable investments in digital innovation before the pandemic, and shows strong consumer understanding in the face of Covid.

This year’s only new entrant, Takealot, enters the ranking on the back of its acceleration towards digitisation and the rapid adoption of e-commerce during the lockdown. It ranks 23rd, with a brand value of $446m.

Discovery was this year’s fastest riser in the rankings, with a 26.6% increase in brand value for "being one of the fastest-thinking brands in its response to the pandemic". The company introduced a digital consultation service, available beyond its membership.

Kantar says Discovery, Capitec Bank and Absa are further bucking a declining trend in financial services, with growth of 26.6%, 10.4% and 3.2% in brand value respectively.

Kantar SA CEO Ivan Moroke believes money is not the only currency in the value equation. "South Africans increasingly value things like trust and convenience … brands need to address the heart, mind and pocket."

This year Kantar undertook new analysis to identify what underpins the building of a meaningfully different and salient brand. It revealed four fundamentals underlying consumer demand. In SA, the proportion of brand equity driven by them is 62%, so it’s vital to achieve at least parity with competitors in these respects. The company gives the following list and guidelines:

*Experience — offer superior experience across all branded touchpoints;

*Function — create a range of well-designed products and services;

*Convenience — ensure the two aspects mentioned above fit well into consumers’ everyday lives; and

*Exposure — cut through with advertising featuring memorable icons and messages.

Brands also need to address the issues of responsibility and purpose, Moroke says. "Consumers increasingly want brands to lead the way when it comes to sustainability, so overlaying your brand purpose with wider societal concerns is becoming crucial."

Kantar says meaning, value and difference are vital for growing brands. Capitec Bank (No 11, with a brand value of $928m) is most meaningfully different and tops the table for being both value-and difference-driven, closely followed by Takealot, Discovery and Woolworths. Those most value-driven are Mr Price (No 20, with $487m), Clicks (No 22, with a brand value of $449m) and Checkers (No 27, with $334m).

Kantar says Checkers has maintained meaning while growing its difference. "The brand is hugely meaningful in this tough economic climate. Its three-pronged approach includes the Xtra Savings reward initiative, the FreshX concept supermarkets and the Sixty60 grocery delivery offering."

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