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Telecoms businesses rank first and second on Brand Finance’s most valuable brands rankings, with MTN maintaining its position as the most valuable South African brand, despite experiencing an 8% decrease in brand value to R68.2bn.

MTN has significantly expanded outside of its home market and has a stronghold in Nigeria, which is now the telecoms giant’s largest market in terms of user base and revenue. MTN also boasts the highest sustainability perceptions value. This does not gauge the company’s overall sustainability endeavours; rather, it reflects the extent to which the brand’s value is associated with perceptions of its sustainability.

Vodacom increased its brand value by 10% to R43.9bn in 2024. This secures its second place in the ranking, while also narrowing the gap with MTN. Brand Finance research indicates that the influence of majority shareholder Vodafone bolsters Vodacom’s brand and market standing. Though Vodacom operates autonomously and is listed on the JSE, Brand Finance data shows that Vodacom’s association with Vodafone enhances brand equity, cultivating recognition and trust.

Standard Bank ranks third with a 27% increase in brand value, supported by its expansive operations in Africa.

Nando’s debuts as the fourth most valuable brand with a brand value of R28bn, showcasing its global success and innovative approach to customer experience. Previously, Nando’s was excluded from the ranking due to data limitations. The brand’s entry at fourth position reflects its status as a global restaurant powerhouse and one of South Africa’s most iconic brands. Though rooted in South Africa, Nando’s generates most of its revenue from international markets, notably the UK and Australia.

FNB is South Africa’s strongest brand with a brand strength index (BSI) score of 92 out of 100 and an elite AAA+ brand rating, replacing last year’s strongest brand, Pick n Pay, which moves down to eighth position. Brand Finance says FNB’s success is attributed to the bank’s strategic shift towards positioning itself as more advisory-focused, rather than merely product-oriented. Its research also found FNB had high levels of familiarity and consideration among consumers in South Africa.

The biggest mover within the top 10 brand strength ranking is Old Mutual, from seventh in 2023 to second in 2024.

Local retailers remain among South Africa’s strongest brands, despite mixed brand value fortunes. There were six retailers in the top 10 strongest brands in South Africa’s 2024 ranking, indicating the sector’s overall strength. Woolworths remains the strongest retail brand for the second year in a row. The brands included in the top 10 brand strength ranking remain the same, in some cases just trading places. Retailers dominate the space, with Woolworths, Checkers, Dis-Chem, Clicks, Pick n Pay and Game all demonstrating the trust consumers place in them.

Brands in the Shoprite Group have demonstrated exceptional growth, positioning the group as a key player in South Africa’s retail landscape. Checkers has added an impressive 14% to its brand value. The report reveals that combined, brands from the Shoprite Group included in this year’s rankings have generated R41bn in value — which, if considered as such, would place the group portfolio at third in overall brand value ranking, just behind Vodacom and well ahead of the big financial services brands. Underpinning the impressive performance is a clever positioning of its brand portfolio across the breadth and depth of the South African economic landscape.

Amid the myriad challenges that South African businesses are facing, our research highlights that now, more than ever, brand consistency is crucial in driving growth
Jeremy Sampson

“In an economy where consumers are hard hit by ongoing macroeconomic challenges and increasingly finding it hard to make ends meet, the offerings from these brands are hitting the sweet spot of consumers’ needs — from the mass market, where affordability is key, to the middle and upper middle markets where value for money and convenience are critical drivers of choice,” says the report.

This year is the 15th release of Brand Finance’s Most Valuable South African Brands ranking. There are several interesting trends worth reflecting on, including an incredible degree of consistency in the brand value performance of South African brands. Six out of the top 10 most valuable brands have remained in that grouping throughout the past nine years. More specifically, MTN and Vodacom have consistently been the top two most valuable brands in the rankings — and up until 2021, both appeared in the top 10 brand strength rankings too, which supports the principle that strong brands support strong business performance.

While this consistency is remarkable, it is important to put this into perspective as to what it takes to make the top 10 rankings. In 2016, the average BSI score for the top 10 brands was 77.1 out of 100 — with only one brand, Woolworths, achieving a score of 80-plus. In 2024, the average BSI score for the top 10 brands was 89.3 and the lowest score in the top 10 was 87.7 (MTN and Game).

That is a remarkable increase of 10-plus BSI points which suggests that top South African brands have made significant strides in building brand equity through consistent brand investment, while supporting business performance, says Brand Finance. This was achieved during some of the most challenging geopolitical operating conditions since the dawn of democracy.

There is a similar trend in the brand value trends. In 2016, the average brand value of the top 10 brands was R18.3bn. By 2024, the average brand value for the top 10 has risen to R31.1bn. Brands like Vodacom, MTN, Standard Bank and Absa have nearly doubled their brand value since 2016. Brand Finance says this is a remarkable feat given the pressure that brands have been under to carefully manage marketing budgets — with investment either reducing or remaining flat year on year.

“Amid the myriad challenges that South African businesses are facing, our research highlights that now, more than ever, brand consistency is crucial in driving growth,” says Jeremy Sampson, chair of Brand Finance Africa. “The impact of consistently nurturing brands for long-term value creation is evident in the growing contribution of brands to the intangible asset value of the businesses that continue to grace the top 10 rankings. On the other hand, strong brands like MTN and Pick n Pay are increasingly vulnerable to challenging business contexts — be that external factors like the devaluation of the naira for MTN, or CEO challenges for Pick n Pay. Both must carefully navigate these headwinds to retain and continue creating value.”

Brand Finance is the world's leading brand valuation consultancyThe full ranking, additional insights and more information about the methodology are available in the Brand Finance South Africa 100 2024 ranking.

The big take-out: Time and time again, our findings underscore the critical need to prioritise brand investment as a strategic imperative, safeguarding companies’ brand as a valuable asset for the future.” — Jeremy Sampson, chair of Brand Finance Africa

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