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Financial brands hardest hit in Interbrand's global survey

LONDON - Financial brands have taken a hammering over the past year, with internationally famous names such as Citi and UBS seeing the value of their brand slashed in half.

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According to the Business Week/Interbrand 2009 Best Global Brands Study, published today, American Express remains the biggest financial brand in the index, but it fell from number 15 to number 22, against a 32% fall in the value of its brand.

Citi, one of the banks that had to be bailed out by the US government, saw its place in the list tumble from 19 to 36. UBS lost 50% of the value of its brand to drop to 712 in the list, compared with 41 last year.

JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs managed to hold on to their rankings of 37 and 38 respectively, in spite of both seeing the value of their brands drop.

The downturn in the automotive industry is also reflected in the list. Harley Davidson was worst hit, losing 43% of its brand value to drop from 50 in the list to 73. Apart from General Motors, which is not in the list because it trades under different brands, most companies saw a fall in their valuation, including Toyota, Ford and Honda.

Yesterday Toyota said it planned to spend $1bn on marketing in the US over the next quarter, with an emphasis on promoting its hybrid Prius. This figure is reportedly as much as 40% more than Toyota would usually spend on marketing in a quarter.

Rita Clifton, chairman of Interbrand, said: "The automotive industry hasn't had the happiest of years, which will come as no surprise to anyone. All of them want to be the one that emerges harder and faster from the recession.

"Toyota is spending on the hybrid models, which cast a halo over the whole brand, so what's interesting is not just how much they are spending but where they are spending it."

As many financial brands have accepted public money, they are in less of a position to spend vast amounts on advertising. However, Clifton said that they had different issues, needing to regenerate a sense of trust.

The study shows an interesting split between the brands that saw the value of their brands boosted in 2009, from the cheap and cheerful, such as Wrigley, Nestle and Campbell's, to the most luxurious, such as Gucci, Hermes and Polo Ralph Lauren.

And fulfilling widespread forecasts that homeowners would spend more money on improving their houses as they delayed moving, Ikea's brand value grew by 10%, pushing it to number 28 on the list from 35 last year.

The study found that the same brands were in the top 10 this year as last year, with Coca Cola maintaining its position as the biggest brand in the world.

McDonald's had moved up the rankings from eighth place to sixth, switching places with struggling Toyota, and Google, bolstered by 25% growth in its brand value was up from 10 to seven.

Interbrand global brand survey 2009

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