Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Financial Services Sector Has 6 of Top 10 Brands

The Globe and Mail, Tara Perkins, 19 June 2007

Insurer Manulife Financial Corp. has elbowed a number of contenders out of the way to take the No. 3 spot in a list of Canada's most valuable brands, up 12 notches from where it stood a year ago.

The financial services industry again swept the podium, with the Royal Bank of Canada's "RBC" brand coming in No. 1 (with an ascribed brand value of $5-billion), and Toronto-Dominion Bank's "TD" No. 2 ($3.4-billion).

Six of the top ten brands were in the financial services sector.

The value of the brand "Manulife Financial" more than doubled from a year ago to $3.2-billion, according to Level5 Strategic Brand Advisors and Brand Finance Canada PLC, the companies behind the ranking.

The rapid jump came after the insurer began using more consistency in its message and unveiled several product launches and customer service initiatives to improve communications, said Peter Drummond, a vice-president and senior adviser at Level5.

Manulife chief executive officer Dominic D'Alessandro "had a real eye for business growth," Mr. Drummond said.

Manulife hasn't rebranded John Hancock Insurance and Financial Services, the Boston-based company it bought a few years ago, so the Hancock brand was not included in the ranking. But the Canadian insurer's name is sprinkled around the globe through operations such as Manulife Singapore, Manulife-Sinochem Life Insurance Co. Ltd. in China, Manulife Thailand and Manulife Japan.

This year, Manulife (International) Ltd. in Hong Kong won its fourth Trusted Brands Gold Award in the insurance category, in a contest set up by Reader's Digest.

Rival insurer Sun Life Financial Inc., which came in No. 16 on this year's list, is in the midst of making changes it hopes will help it compete with global mega-brands. It recently decided to rebrand its Clarica operations under the Sun Life banner, and plans to unveil an image-building advertising campaign this year to capitalize on the change. Sun Life's brand was valued at $1.7-billion.

Meanwhile, grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. tumbled five spots to No. 7 this year, reflecting "unclear strategic brand and business objectives amidst increased competition from players including Wal-Mart," the ranking said. Its brand was valued at $2.5-billion this year, down from $3.3-billion.

This year's list included business-to-business brands, allowing aluminum maker Alcan Inc. and Magna International to muscle onto the list at No. 9 and No. 11.

Aside from the usual banks, insurers and telecom companies in the top ranks, there were also Imperial Oil Ltd. (whose brand is Esso) and Thomson Corp.

Other notable names in the top 50 were Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, which ranked No. 18 with a value of $1.6-billion and is now "truly a global brand," and Tim Hortons, which came in at No. 29 , and whose brand value of $1.2-billion represents 17 per cent of the total value of the company.

The ranking defines a brand as the trademark and associated goodwill.

Canada's priciest brands

1. RBC
Brand value: $5-billion
2006: $4.5-billion

2. TD
Brand value: $3.4-billion
2006: $2.8-billion

3. Manulife
Brand value: $3.2-billion
2006: $1.4-billion

4. Bell
Brand value: $3-billion
2006: $3.1-billion

Brand value: $3-billion
2006: $2.8-billion

6. Scotiabank
Brand value: $2.9-billion
2006: $2.2 -billion

7. Loblaws
Brand value: $2.5-billion
2006: $3.3-billion

8. Bank of Montreal
Brand value: $2.5-billion
2006: $1.8-billion

9. Alcan
Brand value: $2.2-billion
2006: N/A

10. CN
Brand value: $2.1-billion
2006: N/A

Total value of Canada's 50 most valuable brands: $74-billion