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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Etisalat brand is the most valuable in the Middle East 

UAE telco came top in the Middle East with a brand value of $7.7bn, report says

Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator saw its shares gain 7.4 per cent in July. Satish Kumar / The National
Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator saw its shares gain 7.4 per cent in July. Satish Kumar / The National

Etisalat is the most lucrative brand in the Middle East, its Smiles loyalty programme and “user-friendly” app raising its brand value to $7.7 billion, according to a new report.

The Abu Dhabi telco is one of a handful of Arabian Gulf companies listed in the world’s top 500 brands for 2018, compiled by consultancy Brand Fin­ance, with Amazon supplanting Google at the top of the rankings

Etisalat was ranked 217th out of 500 companies by Brand Fin­ance, rising 75 positions from its score in 2016. Its brand value rose 40 per cent year-on-year, the consultancy said.

“The UAE’s focus on digital innovation has helped support Etisalat’s brand success and paved the way for future growth,” said Andrew Campbell, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East.

“With its stated strategy of ‘Driving the Digital Future’, Etisalat has adapted to a new competitive marketplace dominated by the rise of tech giants.”

The success of Etisalat’s Smiles loyalty programme, as well as its user-friendly app, were key growth drivers for the telco’s brand in the past year, Brand Finance said.

“Additionally, Etisalat has amplified the rollout of its smart customer experience centres and renewed support for its global football sponsorships with further focus on its partnership with Manchester City Football Club,” it said.

The consultancy compiled its Global 500 ranking by evaluating a company’s “brand strength” based on three key factors.

These are marketing investment – methods used by

marketers to create brand loyalty and market share; stakeholder equity – the perceptions among stakeholder groups including customers; and business performance, which includes market and financial measures to judge the success of the brand in achieving price and volume premiums, Brand Finance said.

Other Middle East firms included in the ranking were Saudi Arabia’s state-owned telecoms giant Saudi Telecom Company, which came second in the region. It ranked 253rd, down from 251st last year, but its brand value increased 7 per cent over the period to $6.2bn, according to the report.

Dubai carrier Emirates was ranked 329th, up from 263rd, but with a 12 per cent decrease in brand value to just over $6bn.

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Chemicals giant Sabic was ranked 491st with a brand value of $2bn, up 78 per cent on the previous year, when it was not included in the ranking.

Technology brands claimed all top five places in Brand Fin­ance’s overall league table for the first time since the inception of the study in 2007.

E-commerce giant Amazon was crowned the world’s most valuable brand, ahead of Apple and Google, with Samsung and Facebook ranking fourth and fifth, according to the report.

Amazon’s brand value increased by 42 per cent year-on-year to $150.8bn.

“Amazon has become the world’s largest internet business by both market capitalisation and revenue. It is no longer just an online retailer, ” the report said.

“Now it is moving beyond the digital space, as last year’s takeover of Whole Foods for $13.7bn gave the brand a foothold in the realm of bricks and mortar..”

Apple defended its No 2 posi­tion in the ranking, with its brand value rebounding to $146.3bn after a 27 per cent decline last year. But the report said its future looks bleak.

“Apple has failed to diversify and grown over-dependent on sales of its flagship iPhones, responsible for two-thirds of revenue,” the report said.

“Poor fourth quarter 2017 sales of the iPhone X at only 29 million handsets fell short of expectations, and the model is predicted to be discontinued later this year.”