Accountants rule – PWC and co are bigger UK brands than Cadbury

And Sky and Marks & Spencer and Virgin etc. Or they are according to the latest brand valuation exercise from consultants Brand Finance.

Valuing brands is a tricky exercise of course although no doubt very good business for the likes of Brand Finance. There’s chapter and verse on the methodology which purports to show how the PricewaterhouseCoopers brand can be worth more (£6.13bn) than the aforementioned famous consumer brands in Marketing Week. In essence though a successful brand surely means that you attract business without necessarily doing anything, like being better than the competition.

As such it’s maybe logical that the big accountancy firms are mega-brands, PWC (eighth in the Brand Finance table), KPMG (11), Deloittes (12) and Ernst & Young (14) enjoy an enviable monopoly of the world’s auditing and (much more profitable) consultancy markets.

Their dominance has all been all the greater since Arthur Andersen imploded a decade ago in the Enron scandal – but there’s the rub.

If you’re Cadbury or Sky or Virgin you can ride out pretty well any corporate disaster so long as you keep delivering your product to consumers. It’s much harder if you’re a financial brand, as the partners of these accountancy firms remind themselves on the rare occasions when they have sleepless nights.

Still, it’s nice work if you can get it. For the record the top UK brand (these aren’t all UK companies) is Vodafone worth £17.93bn followed by bank HSBC on £17.61bn. Tesco and Orange come next and Asda jumps seven places to number nine rather mystifyingly as the industry consensus is that it’s rather lost its way recently. The BBC, surely the strongest brand in the UK, languishes way down at 24, just ahead of Cadbury at 26.

A strange business this brand valuation lark.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.