Bank marketers for years have competed primarily on products, services and rates. Many still do. However, commoditization in financial services, along with intensified competition from fintechs and neobanks has made brand more important than ever.
The fintechs in particular often focus on building their brand aggressively, although not always through traditional means. Digital bank Varo opted for a Super Bowl ad, while fast growing Nubank in Brazil, relies totally on word of mouth through organic social.
Among traditional institutions, the banks with distinctive names often fare better in brand rankings than the many banks with “First National” or “Commerce Bank” names. That’s not 100% true, however, as Rhode Island-based Citizen’s Bank has seen its brand value increase, as noted further down. And in China, the bank names are very pedestrian, yet rank among the highest in brand value.
This year’s Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 rankings found the brand value of the world’s largest 500 banks grew overall for the first time in three years, increasing by 9% to an all-time high of US$1.38 trillion. Chinese banks made up a third of the total brand value in 2022, with ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) retaining the title of the world’s most valuable brand. U.S. banks held five of the top ten spots, however, with Bank of America named the most valuable bank brand in the country.
Brands on the Rise:
After three years of shrinking value, the top 500 banking brands have rebounded, helped by economic recovery and progress in adapting to the pandemic.
While many of their global counterparts experienced declines in brand value over the past three years, Chinese banks seemingly remained impervious. Experts attributed this to a quick response to the virus and continued digital development that enabled them to operate in the pandemic with less disruption.
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What Goes Into Determining Brand Value?
In its sixth consecutive year of conducting the study, the Brand Finance Global Brand Equity Monitor conducts research on more than 5,000 brands across 29 sectors and 36 countries. Brand Finance is an independent branded business valuation and strategy consultancy.
The firm uses a complex methodology that considers multiple contributions to brand value, including what brands pay in royalty agreements and an analysis of how brands impact profitability. It then considers brand strength — reflecting three core pillars of inputs, equity and output — before assigning a score based on both brand impact and brand strength.
The Most Valuable Bank Brands In the United States
U.S. banks account for nearly a quarter of the total brand value in the Brand Finance Banking 2022 ranking, with a brand value of $313.7 billion. The table below lists the top ten U.S. banks.
Source: Brand Finance
Some notables beyond the top ten: Truist, # 11 in the U.S., dropped from 36 to 38 globally; #17 Citizens Bank (R.I), increased from 92 to 85 globally; and in a battle for Ohio bragging rights, Fifth Third Bank, which was #18 in the U.S., dropped from 91 to 93 globally; #19 KeyBank also dropped globally, from 95 to 105, but #20 Huntington Bank jumped 31 places globally from 138 to 107.
#1 Bank of America
Bank of America remained the most valuable U.S. banking brand, with its brand value rising 12% to $36.7 billion in 2021. BofA has netted several awards and top rankings in the past couple of years for its digital initiatives and engagement. According to Raddon Research, the bank’s mobile app is now used by one in three Gen Z and Millennial consumers. That survey also found BofA consumers report higher levels of satisfaction than do consumers at other institutions, and they are more likely to recommend the bank to others.
Citi’s brand value rose 7% to $34.4 billion. While Citibank took a significant tumble during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, it made a rapid comeback. Part of this is due to reorganizing, withdrawing from some international markets, and refocusing on wealth management under new CEO Jane Fraser. Despite its size, Citi retains a small branch network of less than 700, but plans to keep most while focusing more on expanding digital engagement.
Chase, the consumer banking brand of JPMorgan Chase & Co., saw its brand value rise 5% to $30.1 billion. Making strong progress in competing with neobanks, Chase now has more than 58 million active users on its digital banking platform. Last year, Chief Information Officer Gill Haus told The Financial Brand that COVID had sped up the bank’s technology trajectory. Chase approaches tech differently by sending regular updates to its apps, keeping data at the core, reducing organizational siloes, and speeding up the development process.
#4 Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo fell one spot to the eighth position and is the only bank in the top ten with a contracting brand value. Brand Finance notes the bank continues to be undermined by the massive account fraud scandal first revealed in 2016. Legal and financial consequences in 2021 continued to weigh on the brand. Nevertheless, Wells Fargo retains a top position as one of the world’s largest banks and strongest brands. The company unveiled a new logo in 2019 to help rebuild its battered brand and has since doubled down on its digitization strategy.
#5 J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. subsidiary that deals with investment banking and private banking and treasury and payment operations, saw its brand value rise 23% to $28.9 billion. The J.P Morgan Payments unit ranked as the top payment processor in the U.S. for the eight consecutive year. It recently acquired a stake in Viva Wallet, took majority ownership of Volkswagen Payments Business, and launched Digital Bill Payment, a bill pay solution powered by Paymentus.
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#6 Capital One
Capital One’s brand value rose 34% to $17.5 billion in 2021. The bank experienced a significant post-pandemic rebound, with net income growing by 357% in 2021 compared to the following year. While much of the growth was attributed to a drawdown in reserves, the bank’s customer base is also expanding. Capital One continues to refine its “human-plus-digital” strategy, combining its unique café branches with Eno, its AI-powered chatbot. Additionally, it joined a couple of other large banks late-2021 when it announced the elimination of all overdraft and NSF fees in a brand-boosting move.
#7 Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs’ brand value rose 19% to $16.3 billion in 2021. While the company may be more known as a Wall Street investment bank, its Marcus brand digital consumer bank is gaining traction offering no-fee loans, high savings rates. The direct bank is building its brand with an ad campaign that mocks traditional banks. Dustin Cohn, head of brand and marketing at Marcus, says that the consumer brand was founded by finding the white space in the market and addressing consumer pain points.
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#8 Morgan Stanley
Investment banking giant Morgan Stanley’s brand value rose more than 32% in 2021 to $12.5 billion. Chairman and CEO James Gorman noted in his Q4 2021 statement that the company had achieved record revenues in each of its business segments and that the “integrated investment bank has continued to gain wallet share.” The company is also doubling down on its wealth management division and acquired E*Trade and Eaton Vance in 2020.
#9 U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank’s brand value grew more than 22% in 2001 to $10 billion. Dominic Venturo, senior vice president and chief digital officer at U.S. Bank, told The Financial Brand that the bank is levering new technologies to improve the customer experience. This includes streamlining onboarding processes and creating new ways to manage finances across channels. Venturo notes it has completely rethought the way customers interact with the bank, creating experiences that are faster, easier, and more intuitive. The bank’s mobile app, completely redesigned just before the pandemic, has won numerous No. 1 rankings among benchmarking firms.
PNC’s brand value grew more than 35% in 2021 to reach $9.2 billion. When many banks are moving more to digital, PNC made a big bet on branches in 2020 when it purchased BBVA for $11.6 billion. This took the bank brand national, increasing its branch territory by nearly 30%. Despite the growth of its physical footprint, the bank continues to roll out new digital initiatives. In July 2021, PNC launched its innovative Low Cash Mode feature, which offered a new approach to overdrafts, giving consumers more control of the process through a series of remedies before fees kick in.