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Image: Gucci

The total value of Europe’s top 500 most valuable brands dropped 10 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic from €1.96 trillion in 2020 to €1.76 trillion in 2021, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, as Europe continues to rebound more slowly than other major markets. Ranking companies by their “brand value,” i.e., “the value of the “names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs” that a company uses to identify and distinguish its “goods, services or entities” from those of others and create “distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders,” Brand Finance revealed that Mercedes-Benz took the top spot again this year, as automakers continue to be the most valuable companies in Europe, while other luxury names, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton fall a bit further down on the list.

Following Mercedes in the top 10 are Deutsche Telekom, Volkswagen, Shell, BMW, Porsche, BP, Siemens Group, EY, and Allianz. Elsewhere on the list, Gucci took the number 22 spot, the highest of all fashion-centric luxury brands, with a value of €13.28 billion (down 16.6 percent from last year’s ranking), followed by Louis Vuitton in the 24 spot and a value of €12.65 billion, down 15 percent from 2020. While Chanel fell further down on the list at number 27, it advanced compared to last year’s ranking, up 5 spots with a brand value of €11.27 billion, as did Hermès, which is up two positions to number 34 with a value of €10.75 billion. 

Europe’s biggest fast fashion brands fared relatively well on the London-based brand valuation firm’s 2021 list: Inditex-owned Zara took the number 28 spot again this year and H&M came in at number 30 (up one spot from 2020). 

And in a roundup of some of the luxury names that made the list: Cartier took the 32nd position (down from 26 in 2020), Rolex came in at 58 (up from 60), Dior in 60 (up from 77), and Burberry in 145 (down quite a bit from 106 in 2020). Prada dropped to 165 (from 125 in 2020), Moncler nabbed the 200 spot (from 179), Saint Laurent dropped to 205 (from 192), Armani came in at 271 (up from 288), Givenchy was up to 273 (from 279), Valentino is at 319 (from 378), Loewe took the 344 spot (up from 352), and Celine came in at 349. Despite falling far down on the list, Brand Finance, nonetheless, pin-pointed Celine as among the brands with the greatest change in value from 2020 to 2021, with the Hedi Slimane-designed brand rising in value by 105.5 percent year-over-year. Finally, Bottega Veneta took the 366 spot (down from 298) and Salvatore Ferragamo ranked at 424 (from 388).

In a separate ranking, one that focuses “Brand Strength,” and takes into account a company’s “marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation.” In accordance with these metrics, Brand Finance determined that Exor N.V.-owned Ferrari is Europe’s strongest brand – and the second strongest brand in the world according to the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking – with a Brand Strength Index (“BSI”) score of 93.9 out of 100. Despite a difficult year in the market, “Ferrari reacted proactively to the pandemic, initially shutting down production and then reopening with a focus on creating a safe working environment,” thereby, enabling the company to “minimize disruption and reinforce the brand’s reputation as a high-quality and responsible firm,” Brand Finance states. 

At the same time, “Ferrari remains a highly desired brand, albeit aspirational rather than accessible for many,” part of which, Brand Finance asserts, can be attributed to its longtime practice of “utilizing merchandise to support brand awareness and diversify revenue streams and is now taking steps to preserve the exclusivity of the brand, planning to reduce current licensing agreements by 50 percent and eliminate 30 percent of product categories.” 

Other interesting names on the “Strongest Brands” list include Lego, which took the number 4 spot again this year (with a score of 90.2 up from 89.6), Rolex in number 6 (down by 0.2 points from last year), Remo Ruffini’s Italian outerwear maker Moncler in the number 8 spot, and up 2 points from 2020, and Gucci, which is in the number 9 position after falling by 2.5 points over-over-year. 

Reflecting on the top 500 list as a whole, Richard Haigh, who is the Managing Director of Brand Finance stated that “with over half of the brands [on the ranking] hailing from just three nations – Germany, France, and the UK – the smaller economies have a long way to go to stamp their authority across the continent.” With that in mind, he says, “The focus should be shifted towards investment in building up and supporting strong homegrown brands to expand internationally, which will in turn drive local economies forward.”