Banks lose their brand appeal on the back of sub-prime crisis

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The Independent Online

Market capitalisation is not the only thing taking a battering from the turmoil in the financial sector – brand values are also plummeting as once-stable institutions go to the wall.

Seven of the 10 top 50 brands that fell in value in the year to June were banks. Between them their names lost more than $10bn (£5.5bn) of their cachet, according to the annual Interbrand survey, which uses future income estimates, the role of the brand and overall customer loyalty assessments to build its league table.

Citi was the biggest loser, falling from 10th to 19th position as some $3.3bn was wiped off the value of its brand. Merrill Lynch lost just less than $3bn, more than a fifth of its previous value – which, with hindsight, looks like prescience. UBS lost more than $1bn and Morgan Stanley $1.6bn.

Because the calculations are only to June, and do not take into account this week's confidence-shattering developments, the real picture for the banks is even worse, said Rune Gustafson, chief executive of Interbrand. "This was already a trend on the back of the sub-prime mortgage problems and the credit crunch, and that will certainly have been exacerbated since," he said.

Elsewhere in the business jungle, things are less gloomy. The overall value of the top 100 brands has grown by 5 per cent, even in the midst of such widespread economic uncertainty. "There is a strong sense, throughout the league, that in uncertain markets the relevance of, and need for, strong brands continues to exist," said Mr Gustafson.

Coca-Cola retains the top spot, with an estimated brand value of $6.7bn. IBM, Microsoft, GE and Nokia make up the rest of the top five. Google is the biggest riser – muscling into the top 10 for the first time with a massive 43 per cent growth in its brand value. Hi-tech groups are doing well across the board, with Apple, Amazon and Nintendo rising fast.

The car industry has two stories to tell. Companies that have aligned themselves with environmentalism, such as Toyota, are seeing significant rises in brand value. Those slower to respond are suffering. Ford was one of the year's biggest drops, falling by 12 per cent, or more than $1bn.