Blackfriar: Strike up the brands for Asda, Halifax and Morrisons

THREE Yorkshire brands make it into Brand Finance’s 2014 league table of the top 50 British brands.

The brand valuation and strategy consultancy claims that brands are probably the most valuable assets that a company owns, driving demand and building relationships with customers and partners.

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

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Leading the way for Yorkshire is Asda as Britain’s 17th most valuable brand. Yet the Leeds-based supermarket chain has actually lost two per cent of its brand value over the past year and is now rated as being worth £4.7bn.

How come? It’s the only UK supermarket that’s holding its own against the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Yet, according to Brand Finance, Asda’s sales volumes are down slightly and its stores, which it says are still heavily focussed on large, out-of-town supermarkets, run counter to trends in consumer demand for greater convenience.

The consultancy believes this will affect Asda’s forecasted growth going forward.

In contrast, the surprising news is that Bradford-based Morrisons, which came in at number 21, had an 18 per cent increase in its brand value over the past year to give it a value of £3.9bn.

This looks like a strange decision bearing in mind the retailer’s recent woes. Following Sir Ken Morrison’s claim at the AGM last week that the current management is full of “bulls**t”, this doesn’t sound like a very likely scenario.

Yet Brand Finance’s ​communications director Robert Haigh said that although Morrisons’ recent financial performance hasn’t been fantastic to say the least, a couple of recent initiatives have helped to lift a suppressed brand value.

“Firstly the ‘Market Street’ campaign has helped to refresh the brand and re-engage consumers in something Morrisons has generally done better than most other supermarkets, namely fostering a sense of community,” said Mr Haigh.

Morrisons’ highly successful TV advertising campaign featuring Geordie TV stars Ant and Dec appears to have helped its cause.

“Secondly there have been tentative steps to address the issue of convenience shopping, with a new (albeit limited) online service and significant investment in ‘express’ locations, even in areas that Morrisons previously had no presence such as Kensington,” added Mr Haigh.

It appears that getting in with the Chelsea set has paid off.

The third Yorkshire brand to make the grade is Halifax, which saw a massive 35 per cent increase in its brand value to £2.0bn, putting it in 46th place.

“The increase is down to significantly improved revenues,” said Mr Haigh. “The years between 2011 and 20 13 represented a protracted dip in brand value, but this year’s result shows a strong recovery and recovery of the pre-crash growth trend.”

Following Lloyds takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland at the height of the banking crisis in 2008, Halifax suffered a crisis of confidence.

This is something the bank has worked hard at over the past year to overcome as the Halifax brand returned to its roots as a value for money bank that challenges its more staid and traditional rivals.

When it comes to Brits abroad, Burberry, which manufactures its classic trench coats in Castleford, is seen as a leading light.​ Burberry showed a 20 per cent increase in its brand value over the past year, making it worth £2.6bn at 36th place.

Mr Haigh said that Burberry’s huge success in recent years are the joint legacy of former boss Angela Ahrendts and her replacement, Christopher Bailey.

“More than perhaps any other brand on the list, they have skilfully weaved Britishness into the heart of the brand in a shrewd, creative way that has avoided jingoism or pastiche,” said Mr Haigh.

Credit indeed for Halifax-born Mr Bailey.