Etisalat and stc remain the frontrunners across the MEA region, claiming the title of the MEA’s strongest and most valuable telecoms brands, respectively.
stc is the region’s most valuable brand, its brand value up an impressive 14% to US$9.2 billion, simultaneously jumping 5 positions to 13th and becoming a AAA- brand. stc has recently doubled the capacity of its network, never compromising on customer service – something the brand prides itself on. stc is playing a crucial part in KSA’s Vision 2030 – a strategic framework to diversity the economy away from oil – through establishing a digital hub for the whole region, to accommodate future growth in the IT sector.
David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance commented: “stc’s brand has evolved and grown following its successful masterbrand refresh and extension into Kuwait and Bahrain at the beginning of last year. The company continues to execute its DARE strategy successfully and has strengthened its positioning as a company that enables digital life. Its commitment to digital transformation has been shown with stc pay, recognised as the first tech unicorn in Saudi Arabia.”
Brand Finance evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer perceptions, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. Etisalat has been crowned the MEA’s strongest telecoms brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 87.4 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating – the only brand in the region to achieve this rating.
Thanks to its strategy over the last few years and its recent achievement of becoming the fastest network on the planet, the brand was in a position to respond immediately to the ‘new normal’ of the pandemic, providing solutions and flexibility in a way that connected emotionally with consumers. Etisalat Group, the most valuable telecoms portfolio in the region which has recently broken the US$11 billion mark, is turning its sights on transforming into a truly global player.
David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance commented: “When COVID struck in 2020, Etisalat led from the front ensuring business continuity, robust e-governance, enablement of smart cities and remote learning, to help drive the digital future of the UAE. Staying relevant and enabling the nation with the fastest network on the planet, Etisalat has earned its place as the region’s Strongest Brand, ready deliver on its ethos of Together Matters as the UAE welcomes the world at Expo 2021.”
Out of the seven Middle Eastern brands Etisalat, Mobily, Ooredoo and stc have climbed the ranks this year. Mobily is the fastest growing telco brand in the region with a 17% brand value growth, jumping 10 places in the ranking to 75th position. Mobily (brand value US$1.3 billion), has strengthened its business and brand over the last three years by positioning the brand as the everyday hero. It has attained the highest Brand Strength Index score in its history at 75.4 out of 100 (brand strength rating AA+) and is in a strong position to capture the next wave of growth by seizing opportunities in the digital economy.
Telecoms brand guardians
Every year, Brand Finance releases the ranking of the world’s top brand guardians – the Brand Guardianship Index – which includes the top 100 CEOs globally. Brand Finance has researched and evaluated the brand guardianship score of over 200 CEOs this year.
stc’s Nasser Sulaiman Al Nasser topped the list of Brand Guardians from the telecoms sector this year. Al-Nasser announced his resignation in November of 2020, having presided over a successful rebrand and a period of growth for the stc brand.
The two most recently appointed Brand Guardians in the Telecom industry were Etisalat’s Hatem Dowidar, ranking 3rd and Telia’s Allison Kirkby, ranking 6th. Both had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in their first 12 months and have taken the challenge head on.
Verizon retains top spot globally and across region
For the second year in a row Verizon has claimed the title of the world’s most valuable telecoms brand following an 8% increase in brand value to US$68.9 billion. This brand value growth has not only propelled it back into the top 10 most valuable brands globally in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking, but has meant the brand has continued to widen the lead over second placed AT&T (brand value down 13% to US$51.4 billion). 15 further US brands feature in the Brand Finance Telecoms 150 2021 ranking, with a combined brand value of US$182.8 billion.
Two years since the beginning of Verizon’s business transformation program, Verizon 2.0 – focusing on the transformation of the network, the go-to-market, the brand, and the culture of the business – the brand continues to make leaps and bounds across the industry. The giant is widely recognised to have the best-in-class network and the widest coverage in the US, with the network’s usage surging during the pandemic, handling a staggering 800 million phone calls and 8 billion texts per day. Verizon is making significant strides in its 5G expansion programme, which now spans over 2700 cities and 230 million people.
Savio D’Souza, Valuation Director, Brand Finance commented:
“While 2020 was the year for Verizon to optimise its existing assets, we expect 2021 to be the year where Verizon strengthens its network leadership through acquisitions of a broader spectrum and a wider launch of its 5G and Onefiber. The brand is leveraging its superior brand strength to increase customer differentiation by migrating customers to unlimited plans and increasing stickiness with content and partnerships such as Disney+, Apple and Discovery plus.”
Deutsche Telecom reigns as most valuable
With a brand value of US$51.1 billion, Deutsche Telekom has retained its position as the most valuable telecoms brand in Europe, climbing one spot in the Brand Finance Telecoms 150 2021 ranking to 3rd place. Following an impressive 28% brand value growth, the brand is the fastest growing in the top 10 by far, outperforming the second fastest growing brand, Spectrum, which has increased by 11% to US$21.4 billion.
As the largest telecoms provider by revenue in Europe, Deutsche Telekom has reaped the rewards of its expansion into superfast internet connections and a boost in popularity for its MagentaENIS service package. Last year, the German telecoms brand also completed the T-Mobile and Sprint merger in the United States, which has significantly bolstered its total revenue, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic. With one successful merger under its belt, the telecoms giant is now turning its sights back to Europe to continue its expansion – an endeavour that will more than likely lead to further success in the coming year.
Jio is shining star as sector’s strongest and fastest growing
Taking the sector by storm as the world’s strongest telecoms brand is Indian telecoms giant, Jio, with a BSI score of 91.7 out of 100 and an elite AAA+ brand strength rating.
Despite only being founded in 2016, Jio has quickly become the largest mobile network operator in India and the third largest mobile network operator in the world, with almost 400 million subscribers. Renowned for its incredibly affordable plans, Jio took India by storm through offering 4G to millions of users for free, simultaneously transforming how Indians consume the internet – known as the ‘Jio effect’.
The dominance of the brand across the nation is evident from the results from Brand Finance’s original market research. Jio scores highest in all metrics – consideration conversion, reputation, recommendation, word of mouth, innovation, customer service and value for money – compared to its telecom competitors in India. The brand has no major weaknesses within the sector, and unlike other telecoms brands globally, Jio has shown that it has broken the mould, and enjoys genuine affection from consumers.
As well as being a standout brand for brand strength, Jio is the fastest-growing brand in the ranking in terms of brand value, bucking the negative trend across the industry, with a 50% increase to US$4.8 billion.
Fellow Indian brand Airtel has also celebrated a strong year, jumping 12 spots in the ranking to 23rd following 36% brand value increase to US$6.1 billion.