British Brands Must Hold their Nerve and Budgets

Unveiling the latest league table of the UK’s Top 500 business brands, the Superbrands organisation today urged British business to hold its marketing nerve and budgets in the face of an economic downturn.

“It’s times like this that investment in building engagement, trust and loyalty with a customer base really gets the successful businesses through difficulties caused by wider economic problems. Reputation is a company’s greatest asset and brand building is likely to become even more crucial over the next few years than in the last decade of stability,” said Stephen Cheliotis, Chairman of the Superbrands Council.

He today revealed the 2008 Business Superbrands Top 500, which sees search engine Google top the list of powerful brands.

The internet powerhouse topped a league of 500 businesses and services otherwise dominated by players with long-term UK heritage.

Along with fellow internet supremo eBay (which has been in the UK since the year 2000), Google (10 years old) is the only brand in the top 50 to have emerged after 1990. On average, the members of the top 50 are 90 years old, demonstrating the power of longevity and familiarity in British business.

While heritage does not always protect a brand’s reputation, it is clear from the list that longevity has its advantages. Despite a year of difficulty, flagship organisations British Airways and the BBC for example both retain top ten positions, falling only slightly from last year’s list.

Stephen Cheliotis said, “British business opts for what it knows and trusts and as we head toward economic slowdown this is only going to become more important. The next year will put even the strongest brands to the test as they defend their organisations from the challenges that await.”

As well as the benefits of an established heritage, the league also suggests that UK ownership also has an impact on the strength of the brand. The top ten positions are dominated by companies who are either British stalwarts such as British Airways and BP, or – like GlaxoSmithKline – can trace their origins to the UK.

Shedding light on the powerful players in British business, the list reveals that media brands are having a greater impact than classic commercial sectors such as manufacturing. Google and BBC Worldwide both maintain top 5 positions and are joined in the top ten by the Financial Times (up 7 from last year’s 18), while Reuters rises two place to number 13.

As the importance of identity in business continues to spread, a look at the lower reaches of the chart reveals that the power of branding is reaching sectors it had previously been underplayed in. This year’s league has seen an influx of eight companies from the construction industry (including Balfour Beatty, British Gypsum, and Skanska) demonstrating a renewed emphasis in this sector on the importance of ‘building a brand.’

This year’s top 10 Business Superbrands are:

1. Google

2. Microsoft

3. BP

4. BBC (Worldwide)

5. Glaxosmithkline

6. Rolls-Royce Group

7. Financial Times

8. British Airways

9. Fedex Express

10. Hertz

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