Which is the UK’s strongest brand of 2018? The Superbrands rankings take a look at over 1,500 companies before releasing an annual list of the top 20 favourites. The list is determined by over 2,500 consumers, each of whom are asked to rank the brands in terms of quality, reliability and distinction on behalf of the Centre for Brand Analysis.
The biggest news to emerge from this year’s listing is that airline favourite British Airways has dropped out of the ranking completely. Google and Amazon have also lost out on places in the top 20.
Superbrands chairman Stephen Cheliotis said: ‘British Airways tumbling from top spot to outside of the top 20 should be a wake-up call for all brands. ‘In a world where customer expectations have rightfully risen, brands cannot afford to disappoint and need to continually deliver to retain their valuable reputations. No brand, however strong, is immune to changing consumer sentiment.
Scroll down the list below to find out which brands have managed to gain a spot in the top 20 strongest UK brands…
“It’s not really Danish, it’s made in America!”
Yes we know, but that doesn’t seem to have bothered British consumers, who put the US ice-cream company at number 20 in the UK Superbrands ranking. The company first started out in 1961 in New York – it was created by husband-and-wife team Reuben and Rose Mattus, who wanted to pay tribute to Denmark’s exemplary treatment of Jews during WII by starting a company with a ‘Danish-sounding name’.
Since then the brand has grown ten-fold and currently owns franchises in the United Kingdom, Australia, India, China, Lebanon, New Zealand, and Brazil. The company has kept itself ahead of the game by constantly adding new flavours and pouring money into advertising – just this year Häagen-Dazs announced a whopping twelve(!) new flavours including Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge and Coconut Caramel. Yum! They’ve also expanded their line of dairy free products to meet the needs to consumers with allergies.
According to its marketing department, Visa is “everywhere you want to be” and consumers in 2018 certainly appreciate its global presence as a monetary transaction provider.
Consumers placed the American financial services corporation at number 19 in its list of UK Superbrands thanks to its reliability and ease of us. Nearly everyone who owns a debit or credit card will own a Visa, an impressive achievement for a company which started off test-piloting the scheme in Fresno, a Californian city of only 250,000 people in the 1950s. Visa now dominates the global market in terms of card payments – its only major rival is UnionPay which operates mainly in China.
Visa was one of the first companies to offer contactless payment, with its Visa Airwave scheme (now known as Visa Contactless) appearing in September 2007. It’s kept on top of the game with imaginative marketing campaigns and high-profile sponsorship. Visa has sponsored the Olympic Games since 1986 and also has a strong affiliation with the Rugby World Cup, FIFA World Cup and the NFL. Football fans will be happy to learn that the charismatic Swedish player Zlatan Ibrahimović is the current spokesperson for the company.
Yet another American company comes out on top in the Superbrand listing for 2018 – this time it’s the turn of Kleenex, the paper-based product company which produces toilet paper, wet wipes, tampons and diapers.
Owned and introduced by Kimberly-Clark, the Kleenex brand has long been a favourite amongst UK consumers with its dedication to expanding into several different paper-based products. Kleenex has even managed to draw on some well-known names for its advertising campaigns, including Sven Goran-Eriksson, Bob Geldof and even actor Tom Hardy!
What’s next for the brand then? Kleenex will be looking to capitalise on the success it experienced during 2018’s Amazon Prime Day – shoppers snapped up over 100 million products during the online retailer’s annual discount event, and somewhat surprisingly, Kleenex was one of the brands which came out on top. Recently Kleenex has had a tough time in terms of growth so things are looking up for them. Plus we’ll really need their tissues and wet wipes around for flu season this winter!
Jaguar is the British luxury vehicle brand which is known the world over for its sleek design and powerful performance. UK consumers were clearly impressed with its service this year because it now ranks at number 17 in the Superbrand list.
Jaguar is a popular car maker thanks to its attention to its history and innovation. It’s also shown a willingness to adapt to changes in the global market thanks to its merger with Land Rover in 2013. Jaguar cars are now produced in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham where you can visit the museum and take a look at some of Jaguar’s most popular cars over the years.
One of the companies most iconic motors is the E-Type (aka the XK-E) and was produced between 1961 and 1975. Enzo Ferrari declared this model to be the “most beautiful car ever made” – high praise indeed from a luxury car competitor! Over 70,000 cars of this type were sold during its 14 year production run, and if you want to get your hands on one in 2018 you’ll have to make sure you’ve got millions of pounds stored away somewhere.
A trip to Heathrow doesn’t exactly fill most people with joy, considering it’s still the second busiest airport in the world! However, the brand has made headway in terms of customer satisfaction and recently re-entered the UK Superbrands top 20 ranking for the first time since 2013.
Heathrow has been involved in a lengthy parliamentary and legal process which aims to build a third runaway at the airport – this decision has generated a lot of controversy, with many people concerned about the noise and air pollution a third landing area would generate. However, the brand itself has been moving from strength to strength, thanks to high-profile advertising in many cities outside of the UK capital.
It’s also displayed a commitment to being at the forefront of new technology. Just this week, Heathrow announced it would be one of the first airports in the world to trial new CT scanners, which – if successful – would bring an end to carrying liquids in plastic bags. Hurrah! That would definitely help to ‘make every journey better’ for travellers on long-haul flights.
15. John Lewis
John Lewis is a British institution, and consumers have rewarded its commitment to customer service with a spot at number 15 in the 2018 listings. The UK brand has slipped six places after reaching #9 last year, but it still continues to hold a place in the hearts of British consumers.
The John Lewis Partnership started out as a drapery store in Oxford Street in 1864, before founder John Lewis branched out into other stores across the capital and developed the brand into a department store. The famous slogan, ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, has been in use since 1925. The company made over £3.78 billion last year, and it now has franchises in the Republic of Ireland and Australia, as well as plans to create smaller stores in city centres around the UK.
Even people who don’t regularly shop at the chain will be well aware of its famous Christmas advertising campaigns. Since 2007, viewers have tuned in during the festive period to see what the John Lewis marketing department have been up to all year. Some of the most popular commercials include 2013’s ‘The Bear and the Hare’, which spurned a #1 single, and ‘Moz the Monster’ from Christmas 2017.
Shell is the first oil and gas company to feature on the UK Superbrands list, and has entered the rankings after a four year absence. Although oil companies are rarely in the news for positive reasons, consumers are clearly pleased with the quality and reliability that Shell offers.
The British-Dutch company was the sixth-largest company in the world in 2016 and is definitely one of the biggest companies on the London Stock Exchange. Its iconic red and yellow shell logo, known as the ‘pecten’, is a mainstay of petrol stations the world over and was designed by Raymond Loewy in 1971.
The company has weathered a number of controversies over the years, including its perseverance with Arctic drilling (despite the high risk of oil spill), overstatement of oil reserves and even human rights abuses. However, customers are clearly pleased with their day-to-day experiences of Shell’s products and it re-entered the listings this year with a spot at number 14.
Another petroleum multinational comes in at number 13 on the list – this time it’s BP (formerly known as British Petroleum), a British oil and gas company with its headquarters in London. BP has jumped back up the list after a three year absence, so directors and shareholders must be doing something right at the moment.
BP is currently one of the largest oil and gas franchises in the world. It now operates in over 70 countries worldwide, produces 3.6 million barrels of oil per day, and has 18,300 service stations around the world. Its largest division is BP America in the United States, but its roots still lie in the United Kingdom. At the moment its Sunbury-on-Thames ‘corporate campus’ employs 3,500 people and contains over 50 business units.
However, things haven’t always been so rosy for the company. BP was held directly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, a major industrial accident on the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 people and injured 16 others. The spill also leaked about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, which makes it the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. It’s been reported that the incident cost the company more than $65 billion of cleanup costs, charges and penalties
Somewhat surprisingly, the luxury watchmaker Rolex has made it into the UK Superbrands ranking at number 12. However, although they cost a lot of money to buy, Rolex has won the confidence of British consumers with its stellar service and excellent quality.
The Swiss company has entered popular culture thanks to the appeal it enjoys in the music world, particularly amongst hip-hop stars and rappers. Jay-Z famously collects luxury watches and has a special love of Rolex, whilst actors Mark Wahlberg and Orlando Bloom are also fans. Rolex was actually first created in London in 1905, before founders Alfred Davis and his brother-in-law Hans Wildorf moved the operation to Switzerland.
Rolex regularly tops the list of most expensive watches, and some of its previous owners have only helped to increase the mystique and excitement around the brand. Legendary Hollywood star Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona is now the most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction – it fetched a whopping $17,752,500 at Phillips in New York in 2016.
Cadbury, the chocolate maker founded in Birmingham, is the second-largest confectionary brand in the world after Mars, and it’s been a regular feature in the top 20 UK Superbrands ranking for years. This year it comes in at a respectable #11, slightly down from its usual placing within the top ten.
Cadbury provides some of the nation’s best-loved chocolates, such as Crunchies, Dairy Milk, Flake and Fudges. Whilst some people feel that the product has changed over the years, with many people complaining that it tastes too much like over-sweetened American-style chocolate now, that hasn’t stopped its dominance of the confectionary industry in the UK.
Despite the infamous 2017 Easter Egg branding controversy, Cadbury has gone from strength to strength. It’s now trying to combat the growing trend for no-sugar diets and healthy eating by creating a Dairy Milk chocolate bar with 30% less sugar. They’re also looking to their consumers to help try and create a new Dairy Milk brand due for release in 2019.
The iconic German car-maker BMW has entered the rankings at #10, with UK consumers clearly satisfied with the quality and design of its luxury cars. ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ is one of the most popular car brands in Britain and is also the twelfth-largest car manufacturer in the world.
Despite the fact that it’s a German company, BMW has become known in the UK for its sense of humour, particularly around April Fool’s Day when the manufacturer plays a number of pranks in the British press. In 2010, it announced that people would be able to buy cars with different coloured badges depending on their political preferences!
BMW is now venturing into the world of electric/hybrid cars. In 2013, the company released its first ever electric car, the BMW i3, and since then its continued to release models every couple of years. During the first quarter of 2018, BMW sold 26,858 electrified vehicles. Nice!
“Heinz meanz beanz”
We all know the famous slogan, and Heinz – with its ’57 varieties’ – is a firm household favourite in the UK. It regularly places highly in the UK Superbrands rankings and this year that hasn’t changed thanks to its number 9 spot on the list.
Heinz is the leading seller of baked beans in the UK, with millions of people chowing down on its tasty products every single day. The Kitt Green factory near Wigan is actually Europe’s largest food factory and produces over one billion cans of Heinz goodness every year! Founder Henry J Heinz was an American born to German immigrant parents, and he set up his business in Pennsylvania in 1869.
Fans of Heinz products might be interested to learn that Heinz’ mother, Charlotte Louisa Trump, is the great-great-aunt of current US president Donald J Trump, showing that business has definitely been at the heart of the Trump family for centuries.
Boots is a UK-based pharmacy chain which operates in the United Kingdom, Norway, Thailand and other countries. It’s a firm high street favourite amongst British shoppers and that’s why it’s currently in the top 10 Superbrands ranking at #8.
Boots was first founded in 1849 by John Boot. It was originally launched as a herbal medicine shop in Nottingham and quickly expanded into America and other countries as a pharmaceutical supplier. During the 1960s, the company made history when its research helped to invent Ibuprofen, the painkiller that millions of people now use every single day.
Boots continues to grow and recently merged with an American company to expand its influence in the US and Asia.
7. Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer is probably one of the most well-known British brands in the world. Since its creation in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds, the company has grown and grown – M&S is now a FTSE 100 retailer specialising in the sale of food, clothing and home products. This year it beat one of its biggest competitors – John Lewis – to steal the number 7 spot in the rankings.
The company has run a number of high-profile advertising campaigns over the years, many of which have featured well-known British celebrities from Twiggy to David Beckham. However, M&S has struggled in recent years and is currently in the midst of financial decline.
Job losses are still ongoing at the company as directors try and make the clothing and homeware aspects of its business more profitable. However, M&S luxury food is still going strong and consumers are clearly pleased with the service and product quality they receive, if its ranking in this list is anything to go by.
Disney has been a childhood favourite for generations of people around the world since it was first created in 1923. Although The Walt Disney Company (aka the House of Mouse) used to be a film studio, bringing us classic animations such as The Lion King, Bambi and Snow White, it’s branched out successfully into merchandise, publishing, music and even theme parks.
UK consumers continue to enjoy the brand and they voted it in at number 6 in the UK Superbrand rankings this year. Disney has proved time and again that it knows how to move with the times – it brought Pixar to the world, built Walt Disney Worlds in Florida and Paris, and has now purchased the Star Wars franchise.
The future looks bright for Disney, and it’s been rumoured that a massive merger with 21st Century Fox is on the cards this year.
Coca-Cola – it’s one of the most iconic brands on the planet and comes in at #5 on this year’s list. Consumers are loving the vast array of flavours to choose from, as well as the healthier sugar-free options the company has developed.
It dominated the soft drinks market throughout the 20th century and continues to influence consumers today. In 2013, Coke products were sold in over 200 countries worldwide, with consumers drinking more than 1.8 billion servings of Coca-Cola each day!
The company has produced some of the most popular marketing campaigns of the last century. We all know it’s Christmas time when the famous red Coca-Cola lorry featuring Father Christmas makes its way onto our TV screens. Plus, the company received a massive boost when it released the famous ‘name bottles’ as part of its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.
Andrex is a firm favourite amongst UK consumers – not to mention its famous Andrex puppy! The British brand of toilet roll is owned by American company Kimberly-Clark and is sold in various countries across Europe. Consumers are still loving the brand in 2018 and it retained its place in the top ten.
The Andrex puppy ads are some of the most famous advertising campaigns in the UK, but they nearly didn’t happen at all! In 1972, the original idea was for a young girl to run through a house trailing a roll of the well-known toilet paper.
However, TV regulators didn’t approve of the scene because they felt it encouraged children to be wasteful! Instead, Bowater-Scott’s Marketing Director, Raymond Dinkin, decided to use a Labrador puppy instead and toilet paper advertising history was born.
Apple Inc. has become the biggest company in the world for a reason. It consistently displays some of the best levels of customer loyalty of any multinational technology company and has been repeatedly ranked as the world’s most profitable brand. It comes in at number 3 on the Superbrand rankings for its dedication to innovation and quality.
Apple has risen to 3rd, up 3 places from last year. It was famously founded in a garage by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, who developed one of the earliest computers of all time – the Apple I. Since then, Apple has grown to dominate the technology sector and has expanded into the production of iPads, iPods, Apple Watches and Apple Music.
The company is currently the world’s largest information technology company by revenue and the world’s second-largest mobile phone manufacturer after Samsung. In February 2015, Apple became the first U.S. company to be valued at over $700 billion.
Gillette has risen three places in the rankings to snag the number 2 spot in the 2018 rankings. The UK’s second-strongest brand is an American company which produces men’s and women’s safety razors, as well as other care products.
Gillette is based in Boston, Massachusetts and is owned by the giant pharma company Procter & Gamble. In some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, the brand has become so synonymous with razor blades that their languages now refer to any blades as Gillettes.
The company is now growing internationally and has clearly earned a place in the hearts of UK consumers, proving that it’s still the best a man (or woman) can get.
People probably won’t be surprised to learn that everyone’s favourite toymaker, Lego, is the UK’s strongest brand of 2018! Children and adults alike can’t get enough of Lego bricks, and the company continues to appeal to generations of kids, even in the digital age.
Lego encourages creativity and fuels imagination, which is probably why consumers continue to rank it as one of the best brands in the UK.
The Danish family-owned business beat more than 1,500 other companies to reach number 1. It’s currently celebrating its 60th anniversary and has risen all the way to the top from 25th place in 2014 and second position in last year’s poll. Congratulations!