Toyota returns as the most valuable car brand in an industry facing tighter margins, according to the 2017 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, released today by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown.
The company saw a -3% fall in brand value to $28.7 billion, with increased sales offset by tough currency challenges as well as increased investment and rising labor costs. BMW ($24.6 billion) and Mercedes-Benz ($23.5 billion) complete the top three, with Ford moving up one place to number four with a brand value of $13.1 billion.
Tesla rises 32% to be the world’s fastest-growing car brand with a brand value of $5.9 billion, in the 12th annual report. The sharp increase reflects the success of the car’s positioning as an innovative but stylish luxury brand offering the performance of a high octane, carbon-burning engine without the guilt.
While there aren’t huge changes in this year’s Top 10 Car brands, Tesla’s 32% growth — moving them to number eight — was notable, says Sana Carlton, SVP, Kantar Millward Brown.
“While we didn’t see huge changes in Tesla’s growth reflects its success in positioning as a stylish luxury brand that offers performance without guilt,” Carlton tells Marketing Daily.” Car brands are clearly challenged with balancing the needs of today’s market while investing in the possibilities for the future. They aren’t immune from the world’s shifting forces — from technology in transportation and distribution to the emergence of a sharing culture.”
In addition to needing to balance priorities for today’s and the future consumer, the BrandZ study takeaways for auto marketers include the need to express a point of view.
“Most brands say they are in mobility, connectivity, and autonomy,” Carlton says. “But me-too — even futuristic me-to — won’t work. Have a point of view that’s just not part of the future, but one that will shape it.”
Automakers also need to be more agile as partners.
“As technology companies enter the car business, partnering can be awkward,” she says. “Carmakers need to become as agile as tech companies in the way they are structured, think, and behave.”
Mercedes-Benz, up 4%, was the best performer among the top seven places, while there was more significant movement at the lower end of the top 10.
In addition to Tesla’s success, Land Rover (number 9) and Porsche (number 10) also grew strongly, growing +17% and +16% to $5.5 billion and $5.1 billion, respectively. The former has taken advantage of growing demand for SUVs while the latter has built its popularity in key Asia markets such as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Brands that make it clear how they will make consumers’ lives better, such as Huawei and Toyota, have grown three times more on average over the last 12 years (the top third grew +170% compared to the bottom third which was +57%).