Banks lost $26B by burning brands

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LONDON — The Interbrand annual league tables of brand values are out. And the word for financial services is not good.

LOSS IN VALUE FROM 2008 TO 2009 ($M)

Citi — $9,920
American Express — $6,969
UBS — $4,370
HSBC — $2,633
Morgan Stanley — $2,297

That seems like more than just having mislaid something small. The total that these 5 financial institutions lost is $26,189,000,000 (£16 billion). That’s more than $4 for every man, woman and child on the planet!

To add perspective, $26 billion is:

– More than the GDP of Cyprus
– The total net worth of Larry Ellison
– The amount of money the UK government had to borrow last month
– The total value of Harvard’s endowment
– The budget for London’s Crossrail project

It makes you wonder why and how businesses that are professional money managers can be so undisciplined about something like this.

You can argue — and some do — with Interbrand’s view of brand values. I know the guys there though and they are serious people. And no one can really argue with the suggestion that financial services businesses have lost some of their polish in the past 18 months.

So why is it and what should they be doing about it?

We are quickly realising at Able and How that we have some answers to those questions.

Organisations struggle to match their performance to the perceptions that they try so hard to generate. As a result, all the efforts of their brand teams, their PR people and the best ever advertising campaigns can be ineffective — or even counter productive.

Matching your performance to what you have said to be true about your company is a hard thing. Particularly in tough economic conditions. It means proving your business to be both adaptable and consistent.

It’s a big challenge. But when $26 billion is at stake it’s clearly something more businesses should be worrying about.

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