Insight & Analysis

Press Release: World’s top 50 most valuable commercial services brands could lose over US$30bn of brand value from COVID-19

Published: Jun 2020

22nd June 2020 – The world’s top 50 most valuable commercial services brands could lose up to US$34 billion worth of brand value as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Brand Finance Commercial Services 50 2020 report. Brand Finance’s analysis shows that the commercial services sector is a moderately impacted industry globally and could face a potential 10% loss in brand value.

Newspaper press release

Looking beyond the commercial services sector, the value of the 500 most valuable brands in the world, ranked in the Brand Finance Global Services 500 2020 league table, could fall by an estimated US$1 trillion as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Brand Finance has assessed the impact of COVID-19 based on the effect of the outbreak on enterprise value, compared to what it was on 1st January 2020. The likely impact on brand value was estimated for each sector. The industries have been classified into three categories – limited impact (minimal brand value loss or potential brand value growth), moderate impact (up to 10% brand value loss), and heavy impact (up to 20% brand value loss) – based on the level of brand value loss observed for each sector in the first quarter of 2020.

Alex Haigh, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented: “The sheer size, diversification and complexity of the commercial services sector undoubtedly means that brands are going to be affected differently from COVID-19. On the one hand, navigating the regulatory, ethical and legal responsibilities of this pandemic drives business for many consultancies, law firms, accounting and assurance brands. However, this additional work may not offset or compensate for the extensive losses that these brands are likely to endure. Commercial services firms are amongst the first to take hits as many clients’ priorities are shifting, projects are being cancelled or delayed, and cost avoidance and reductions measures are being put into place.”

Deloitte dominates sector

Deloitte has retained the title of the world’s most valuable commercial services brand, following a 10% brand value increase to US$32.5 billion. Strong revenue growth is the key driver behind the international giant’s brand value increase, with all five of Deloitte’s business segments recording strong results.

In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. According to these criteria, Deloitte is also the world’s strongest commercial services brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 91.4 out of 100 and a corresponding elite AAA+ rating.

The brand has invested considerably in its workforce through learning and development initiatives enabling Deloitte to deliver high quality, consistent services to clients. Above and beyond developing its workforce, Deloitte is committed to helping communities through its societal impact initiative, WorldClass, which prepares people and clients for the technological changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The brand’s increased CSR scores are a testament to this. Deloitte is the only brand in the Big Four to record an increase in brand strength this year.

Professional services: Deloitte, Accenture & PwC podium

Deloitte is the most valuable brand in the professional services sub sector, with a sizeable lead over Accenture in 2nd and PwC in 3rd.

Despite recording a 4% decline in brand value to US$25.3 billion, Accenture retains its position as the second most valuable professional services sector brand. Accenture’s commitment to innovation and improving its technological capabilities proves to be one of its strongest advantages over its competitors. In 2019, a vast majority of Accenture’s capital investment was deployed in “The New” – digital, cloud and security services. These services are flourishing currently as clients turn to them to support their transformation during the pandemic. The relevance of these services, even during such uncertain times, places the brand in a solid position in the long term.

PwC’s brand value has remained stable, with no brand value change at US$24.8 billion. The brand’s revenue increased across all reporting segments, with advisory recording the highest growth, a result of high levels of demand. PwC’s continued investment in people and technology is expected to cater to this demand and drive growth in the future.

Human resources sub sector suffers

The human resources sub sector has recorded less than favourable results, with the top 3 most valuable brands’ brand values dropping by an average of 10%. Dutch brand, Randstad, has recorded a 15% decrease in brand value to US$3.6 billion. The brand has cited lower core earnings and organic revenue due to weakened European markets, which have taken an even greater hit as a result of COVID-19.

The second most valuable HR commercial services brand, Adecco, has seen a 14% drop in brand value to US$3.6 billion. The brand’s key markets have slowed and thus damaged revenues – including, North America where there has been a slowdown in general staffing as seasonal demand falls and in Germany and Austria, which have proved challenging markets due to the weakened automotive and manufacturing sectors.

Sitting in third in the HR sub sector is Manpower (down 8% to US$2.5 billion). The brand’s future is looking turbulent as it is witnessing significant disruption from COVID-19, especially across the European market.

Moody’s leads way for rating agencies

New York-headquartered Moody’s is the most valuable rating agencies brand in the ranking, despite recording a 1% drop in brand value to US$2.6 billion. 2019 was strong year for Moody’s, with both Moody’s Investor Services and Moody’s Analytics recording revenue growth. The brand has taken steps to become a globally integrated risk assessment firm through a combination of increased strategic investments and acquisitions and through launching several new products and services, including REIS Network and MA’s Commercial Location Score.

Second ranked Experian has posted a 6% brand value growth to US$2.1 billion. The brand has closed acquisitions with AllClear ID, MyHealthDirect and AutoID, contributing to its strong revenue growth. Last year, the brand announced Experian Lift – a new suite of credit score products that creates a more holistic picture of consumer creditworthiness – showcasing the brand’s commitment to product innovation.

S&P Global saw a marginal 1% increase in brand value to US$2.1 billion. S&P Global has recently launched several new products and advanced numerous automation and productivity projects – all of which place the brand in a strong position to better cater to consumer demand and drive brand value growth in the future.

American Express overtakes Visa

American Express has overtaken Visa in this year’s ranking to claim 2nd spot in the overall commercial services ranking and 1st in the payment services sub sector, after positing a 6% brand value increase to US$29.2 billion. Over the last year, Amex has refreshed or launched nearly 50 products, boosting the brand’s customer engagement.

Dropping 3% to US$26.9 billion, Visa, has slipped to 3rd in the overall commercial services ranking. Visa has focused on forging strategic partnerships with emerging players including digital banks, wallets and a range of FinTechs, allowing the brand to evolve into a digital-first world.

Sitting in third in the payments services sub sector is Mastercard (up 8% to US$19.8 billion). The brand has been celebrating continuous revenue growth, which the brand attributes to its ability to both address the need of consumers – with a focus on reducing complexity and delivering on experience – and its development of innovative solutions to meet the evolving requirements of stakeholders.

Willis Towers Watson top business support sub sector

Willis Towers Watson is the most valuable brand in the business support sub sector with a brand value of US$3.0 billion. The global broking and advisory company’s strong performance through both organic growth with strong client retention as well as recent M&A activity, such as the acquisition of Tranzact, have boosted estimates of future financial performance. However, recent lawsuits surrounding the Aon merger announced this year, and associated reputational implications, are likely to have a dampening effect on this growth over the next year.

Sitting in second in the business support sub sector is American food service provider Aramark (down 3% to US$2.9 billion). The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged the brand significantly, however, as it negotiates nationwide school closures and the suspension of arena events.

Cintas has seen a 7% brand value growth to US$2.8 billion. The brand celebrated strong performances in the uniform rental and facility services operating segments, contributing to the brand’s organic revenue growth. Cintas’ outlook is uncertain, however, as demand for its products is extremely economically sensitive.

View the full Brand Finance Commercial Services 50 2020 report here

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