The telecoms giant’s brand value grew by 67 per cent over the past 12 months to £9.2bn, almost solely due to the creation of BT Sport, which Brand Finance claims has “revolutionised” its business model and “changed the positioning” of the BT brand.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh says: “BT Sport was set up almost overnight, acquiring all the TV rights and talent within a year. This bold move was a risk to the BT brand and to the business itself given the scale of the investment.

“So far this new content-focused strategy, investing huge sums in rugby and Premier League football, appears to be paying off.”

BT has credited the launch of BT Sport for helping its consumer division post its first yearly revenue growth in more than a decade and driving up its share of the broadband market to 79 per cent of new sign-ups, compared to 50 per cent in the quarter prior to the launch. In the quarter to 31 March BT added 170,000 new broadband customers, while rival Sky had 70,000, helping BT to its “best ever quarter”.

The rate of growth means BT saw the biggest rise in value of the brands in the top 10 and moves it up to seventh position in the rankings, from 12th place last year. Other notable risers include Unilever, which saw its brand value increase by 88 per cent to £3.3bn and Natwest, up 74 per cent to £2.3bn.

Vodafone marked a return to the top spot as its brand value increased 7 per cent to £17.9bn. It overtook last year’s leader Shell, which saw its brand value decrease by 6 per cent. The top five is rounded out by HSBC, Orange and Tesco.

Royal Mail was the highest new entry, in at number 25 following its privatisation. Brand Finance valued the brand at £3.3bn, in part due to the “hugely valuable” Royal element of its name, as much as the Government valued the whole business when it went public in October. Its market capitalisation is currently more than £5bn.

Haigh says: “Royal Mail is an iconic and much loved brand thanks in part to its connection to the monarchy, which is itself one of Britain’s most valuable brands.”

Brand Finance calculates brand value by determining the royalties a company would have to pay to license its brand if it did not own it.

In BrandZ’s annual survey, which uses the views of potential and current customers of brands, alongside financial data, to calculate value, Vodafone was again the most valuable UK brand with a value of $36bn. BT marked the highest brand value increase in the UK top 10, up 61 per cent to $15bn helped by the launch of BT Sport. 

For an in-depth analysis of this year’s BrandZ list and the wider implications for brands click here.