Star Wars success helps Disney overtake Lego as the world’s most powerful brand

Disney has overtaken Lego as the world’s most powerful brand after profiting following a series of “clever acquisitions” including the purchases of the Star Wars and Marvel film franchises.

According to the latest Brand Finance 500 report, Disney has a value of $31.7bn and a ‘brand strength’ score of 91.8.

The latter ‘brand strength’ score is calculated by focusing on marketing investment, brand equity (the goodwill accumulated with customers, staff and other stakeholders) and the subsequent impact on business performance.

With global box office revenue of nearly $2bn, the latest Star Wars film is Disney’s most successful ever film and Brand Finance estimates the value of the sci-fi brand to now be over $10bn – more than double the $4bn Disney paid for Lucasfilm back in 2012.

“Disney has had a strong brand for a long time and has maintained its AAA rating consistently,” said Robert Haigh, head of marketing at Brand Finance. “But Star Wars has been the key factor over the last year; it has really propelled Disney to the top.”

Brand: Brand Strength Index Score: Country:
1. Walt Disney 91.8 US
2. Lego 91.6 Denmark
3. L’Oréal 91.5 France
4. PWC 91.5 US
5. McKinsey 91.4 US
6. Nike 90.7 US
7. Johnson’s 90.7 US
8. Coca-Cola 90.4 US
9. NBC 89.7 US
10. Google 89.5 US

Haigh says Lego has lost the top spot due to a series of “controversies impacting its wholesome image”.

In 2015, Lego was fined by German regulators for attempting to prevent retailers from discounting its products while the toy brand has also been accused of colluding in censorship for trying to prevent dissident Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei from using Lego bricks in his work.

Apple continues to thrive while VW and Nokia fade

Apple, meanwhile, maintains its position the world’s most valuable brand, according to Brand Finance.

Over the last year, Apple’s brand value has risen 14% to $145.9bn as it achieved record-breaking sales of $51.5bn in its fourth quarter.

Brand: Brand valuation 2016 (USDm): Brand Valuation 2015 (USDm):
1. Apple 145,918 128,303
2. Google 94,184 76,683
3. Samsung 83,185 81,716
4. Amazon 69,642 56,124
5. Microsoft 67,258 67,060
6. Verizon 63,116 59,843
7. AT&T 59,904 58,820
8. Walmart 53,657 56,705
9. China Mobile 49,810 47,916
10. Wells Fargo 44,170 34,925

Chinese brands now take up four places among the top 10 fastest growing brands. The online messenger service WeChat is perhaps the best example of China’s growth, with its brand valuation up 83% to $6.5bn.

Among the biggest losers on the 2016 brand valuation list was Volkswagen. The car brand has been hit by revelations it programmed its diesel vehicles to activate their optimal emission-reduction settings only when being tested and that, driven under normal conditions, they would emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide.

And as a result of the controversy this scandal created, Volkswagen’s brand value has taken a $12bn hit falling to $18.9bn. In just a year, Volkswagen has gone from 17th to 56th on the Brand Finance Global 500 list.

It was also bad news for Nokia which, for the first time ever, fell from the top 500 most valuable brands list altogether.

Haigh concluded: “VW has a huge rebuild job on its hands and it could take many, many years to rebuild trust.

“Nokia falling out of the 500 shows how times have shifted. It’s tough to envision Nokia returning.”


Disney is looking to sign fewer, bigger brand partnerships

Sarah Vizard

Disney’s CMO Anna Hill says the brand is shifting its partnership strategy to sign fewer, bigger deals with brands rather than lots of small ones and is on the lookout for companies that are aligned with what it stands for as it plans to “accelerate” the use of its IP to encourage healthy living.