DBS’ brand is worth S$12 billion, Singapore’s highest for 7th consecutive year – and the others are not even close

Brand Finance said DBS is unlikely to lose its top position for a while unless rival banks UOB and OCBC go for a big acquisition.

DBS Bank has successfully retained its title as Singapore’s Most Valuable Brand for the seventh year running.

Global valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance said in its latest Top 100 Singapore Brands report, released on Wednesday (July 31), that DBS had a brand value of US$9.03 billion (S$12.4 billion).

It added that the bank is unlikely to lose its top position “for a while” unless rival banks UOB or OCBC Bank – in second and third place respectively after swapping positions this year – go for a big acquisition.

UOB’s brand value was estimated at US$5.66 billion while OCBC’s was US$5.65 billion – both close to 40 per cent below DBS’ estimated brand value.

The report ranks brands based on a “Royalty Relief approach”, which involves an estimation of the likely future sales that are attributable to a brand and calculation of a royalty rate that would be charged for the use of the brand, assuming it is not already owned.

Brand Finance

Brand Finance noted that the three banks contributed 38 per cent of the total brand value in Singapore this year, up from 31 per cent last year.

DBS said in a media statement that its brand rating was upgraded from AAA- in 2018 to AAA in this year’s rankings, making it one of five brands – including Changi Airport, UOB, OCBC and Singtel – in the country to receive the rating.

Earlier this month, DBS was named “World’s Best Bank” by global financial publication Euromoney. It also won Global Finance’s “Best Bank in the World” and The Banker’s “Bank of the Year – Global” awards in August and November last year respectively.

Managing director of Brand Finance Asia-Pacific, Samir Dixit, said: “New technological developments will have perhaps the fastest application opportunities for the services sector and within that the banks. Retail revenues will be under constant pressure and present a threat to banks going forward.”

“DBS has a head start over others in the region due to their early focus on digital platforms and design thinking, putting them in good stead to address new challenges that may arise in the coming years,” he added.

Transport company ComfortDelGro managed to inch its way into the top 10 – replacing telecommunications firm Starhub, which fell in brand value by 13 per cent.

Changi Airport is Singapore’s strongest brand

According to Brand Finance, the top 100 brands in Singapore slipped from 74.9 to 62.4 over the past year on its brand strength index. Most brands remained stagnant in terms of their brand strength.

While brands here may have performed well locally, the consultancy noted that they have been lagging behind some of the region’s key competitors due to a lack of competitiveness outside of the Singapore market.

Changi Airport surpassed DBS and Singtel to claim this year’s title of strongest brand. While OCBC managed to recover its triple-A brand rating, after getting an AA+ the year before. Singapore Airlines, on the contrary, lost its triple-A rating.

Brand Finance

More focus on brand management needed

Large year-on-year variations in brand value, strength and rankings will continue unless companies have a strong brand agenda as well as manage their brand strength and value “in a concentrated manner”, Dixit said.

According to him, the primary issue stems from brand management often being neglected by the higher-ups in companies and left to “a few people in the organisation” to handle. This is evident from the lack of brand key performance indicators (KPI) for firms.

“Most Singapore brands are typically very communications focused and misunderstand their campaigns (mostly digital these days) to be brand building initiative and that’s where they miss the big picture about the brand,” he said.

Dixit advised Singapore companies to be “more brand-driven and not sales or offers-driven”, the latter of which could compromise long-term value and brand strength.

“Brand has to be a strategic agenda for the senior management and boards and must be managed like any other business asset and not just a legal trademark,” he added.

Brand Finance

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