The top 50 most valuable companies | brands in the UK

14 June 2018 5 min. read

With a brand value of almost £40 billion, Shell is the UK’s most valuable company, while the closes runner up BP saw oil and energy firms dominate the top table of business in Britain. With Vodaphone, HSBC and EY also making the top five, the updated figures saw just one new entrant in the top 10.

Brand loyalty is no longer enough to guarantee continuous revenue flows. With increasing competition for space in the UK market, thanks in no small part to a number of new, agile market disruptors challenging established names by using innovative technologies, major brands are keen to do whatever it takes to cement their market share. 

Brand Finance has conducted its annual study illustrating the most valuable company brands in the UK. As of 1st January 2018, these brands have seen an increased value of 3%, from $327 billion to $337 billion over the previous year, despite uncertainty as the Brexit negotiations moved forward. This is a key improvement on last year’s performance, when British brands faced an overall 6% decline in value. The significant drop in brand value had posed a threat for the British policy-makers, brand owners, workers and consumers, however with less than a year to go until the conclusion of Brexit negotiations, the picture seems significantly rosier in 2018.

The UK remains one of the most popular places to buy brands, the world centre of the marketing and advertising industry, and also the most attractive place for brand creation, while London saw the most arrivals of new brands of any European city last year. The UK subsequently provides its people with opportunities and options, occurrence of regulatory scrutiny of takeovers is relatively rare, and workforce restructuring is considerably straightforward, particularly when compared with its European counterparts.

Top 20 most valuable brands in the UK

Commenting on the favourable results, David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance said, “Project Fear predicted that Brexit would be the end of the world as we know it, with catastrophe for UK businesses and UK brands. It is becoming clear that the UK economy is far more resilient than predicted and that UK brands are responding well to the challenge posed by Brexit. Demand is high for British brands, both by B2C consumers, B2B customer trading partners, and as takeover targets. Brexit will only increase this frenetic activity of world-beating UK brands.”

The top five brands in Britain were largely unchanged, except for a reshuffling in order. With a brand value of £39.4 billion, Shell is the UK’s most valuable company, while the closest runner up BP increased its value by 4% to hit £19.6 billion. Vodafone and HSBC both retained their places in the list despite drops in brand value, while Big Four professional services firm EY boosted its own by 28%, to £17.1 billion.

Indeed, many of the top performers were unchanged from last year, with BT, Tesco and Sky all returning to the top 10. One of the most marked shifts in gear in the list comes from the UK’s automotive sector. Land Rover is the only brand to have driven its way into the top brands of 2018, with a brand value now standing at 11.8 billion, following a 64% increase.

Elsewhere in the top 50, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Mini, Jaguar all saw a boom in brand value. Standing out from the fleet, James Bond favourite Aston Martin posted the largest of such increases in the top 50, as a 268% boost pushed its brand value to £3.6 billion.

Rounding off the top 20, telecommunications firms O2 and 3 Mobile were joined by banks NatWest and Lloyds, retailers ASDA and Sainsbury’s – who are presently locked in merger negotiations – insurance firm Standard Chartered, broadcaster BBC, and international mining giant BHP.

The top 21-50 most valuable brands in the UK

Global insurance conglomerate Aviva followed, alongside cosmetics firm Dove, telecom group EE, fashion label Burberry, and Prudential. Closing out the top 30, Dutch-British consumer goods group Unilever – which is currently unifying its headquarters in the Netherlands – was joined by Nationwide Building Society, whiskey maker Johnnie Walker, Rolls-Royce and retailer Marks & Spencer.

BAE Systems, which is currently reforming its cyber intelligence division, ranks 31st, on par with Scottish energy company SSE, and just ahead of Aston Martin and broadcaster ITV. Also valued at £3.5 billion, the brand of British Airways ranks next, ahead of banker Halifax, and MINI, on £3.4 billion.

Retailer Morrisons is positioned 38th, with a brand value £3.1 billion following the strongest growth in said value out of any of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets in the UK. Concluding the top 40, mining company Rio Tinto and consultancy Willis Towers Watson both post a brand value of £3.1 billion.

Finally, automotive firm Jaguar, at a brand value of £3 billion, is joined by consumer goods producer GlaxoSmithKline at the same level, followed by Virgin Media and the multifaceted outsourcing firm Compass Group. Following insurance and professional services group Aon, food and drinks firm Lipton, Legal & General, automotive firm Bentley, Costa Coffee and insurer Scottish Widows conclude the top 50.