Tatas entered the top 100 list for the first time in 2020 and in 2022 was placed at 78
Earlier this year the publication “Brand Directory”, an annual report of the world’s top 500 brands published by Brand Finance, reported only two Indian names at the top of the heap. Tata was the only Indian company to make the top 100, ranked 78, while Microsoft’s Satya Nadella topped the list of 250 global CEOs for his contribution to ‘Brand Guardianship’. That’s about it.
Since 2007, Brand Finance has published this global brand catalog (branddirectory.com/download-report/brand-finance-global-500-2022-preview.pdf), an annual report on “the world’s most valuable and strongest brands”. In the first year, the US and EU member states accounted for 82 percent of the world’s top brands, while Japan, South Korea and Australia accounted for most of the remaining 18 percent.
A decade later, in 2017, several Chinese companies entered the top 100 list, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in the top 10, and China Mobile placing 11th. Meanwhile, the Tata Group had climbed up the 500 ladder, but was placed at 103, missing a top 100 spot by a whisker.
Five years later, in 2022, the US continues to dominate the global brand list, with Apple at the top, followed by Amazon and Google, and still accounting for 48 of the top 100 global brands. But here is the change. China replaced the European Union as the second-ranked geography for top brands, with 23 of its brands in the top 100. The EU, mostly Germany (7 out of 10), accounted for 10 of the top 100. 100 brands this year shows the US at the top, followed by China, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
Tatas entered the top 100 list for the first time in 2020 and in 2022 was placed at 78Th place.
If US dominance remains an important part of the story, with technology, retail and services contributing to US brand leadership, the headlines are the rise of Chinese brands and the decline of European ones. TikTok, for example, was named the world’s fastest growing brand in 2021. Names like Huawei and Alibaba have become household names around the world. The 2022 report states that: “Over two-thirds of the total brand value in the ranking can be attributed to the two countries, with the United States accounting for 49 percent ($3.9 trillion) and China for 19 percent ($1.6 trillion) .”
Recognizing the importance of developing national brands and promoting their global presence, the government of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao formed the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) towards the end of its tenure in 1996. While housed in the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, it appointed a CEO for the the private sector. IBEF claims that its “primary objective is to promote and create international awareness of the Made in India brand in markets abroad and to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge about Indian products and services. Towards this objective, IBEF works closely with stakeholders across government and industry”. quarter of a century later, IBEF has little to show for promoting Indian brands abroad.
While Tata is the only Indian brand in the top 100, other Indian brands listed in the top 500 telecom companies include Airtel and Jio; IT companies Infosys, Wipro and HCL; financial sector companies SBI, HDFC and LIC; and major Indian oil and infrastructure company L&T. A major reason why the Narasimha Rao government created the IBEF was the recognition at the time that a country’s global image is enhanced by the power of its brands. A small island like Cuba is known for many things but is appreciated for its Cohiba cigars!
Globally, technology companies dominate global brands with a cumulative brand value of $1.3 trillion. While 50 tech and technology companies are listed in the top 500, three have an overwhelming global presence – Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. A close fourth is Huawei. The report adds: “Huawei’s smartphone business was hit hard by US sanctions, but it responded positively by sharply increasing investment in both domestic technology companies and R&D, as well as focusing on cloud services.”
An interesting story I first reported as a journalist about the national value of a brand goes all the way back to the early 1990s. On a visit to South Korea in 1993, on the eve of the historic first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to that country, I was told a delightful story about Korean branding at Hyundai headquarters.
When Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, over a hundred South Korean citizens were stuck in Kuwait and eventually holed up in the country’s embassy. A South Korean plane had landed there with the intention of flying all its citizens out and home to safety.
By the time the flight had landed in Kuwait, the city had been overrun by Saddam’s troops. The diplomats at the South Korean embassy did not know what to do. A Hyundai executive came up with an idea. The Hyundai brand, he told his country’s diplomats, was very popular in Iraq. All 100 of us can get into a couple of buses flying the Hyundai flag and drive from the embassy to the airport. No Iraqi soldier would stop the vehicle, he assured. That is exactly what the embassy officials did. Iraqi troops smiled at the Koreans and let them pass saying “Hyundai, Hyundai”! All South Korean citizens flew back home to safety.
TikTok has done for China what Hyundai did for South Korea, Honda does for Japan or Apple does for America and Mercedes-Benz does for Germany. Popular brands create a positive impression of the country they belong to. India also needs its brands of global quality and global appeal. It is no coincidence that the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is often referred to in the Western media as the son-in-law of the man who created Infosys. Rather than Mr. Sunak brand Infosys, Infosys brand Mr. Sunak. Until last week, apparently more people around the world had heard of Infosys than Rishi Sunak.
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