© Ludwig Schedl

EBI study underscores the value and sustainability of Austria’s leading brands

Red Bull 1st, Novomatic 2nd, Swarovski 3rd; Verbund in the Top 10 for the first time; ÖBB shines as leading sustainable brand

The European Brand Institute (EBI) has carried out its seventeenth Austrian Brand Value Study, in which it ranks Austria’s most valuable brands. The study was presented to journalists and brand managers on 1 July 2020. Electronic press kit: https://www.europeanbrandinstitute.com

Gerhard Hrebicek, President of the European Brand Institute and author of the study, has ascertained that 2019 was a record year in which many top brands showed they were delivering outstanding performance. However, he believes that the most important factor at the moment is brand resilience. “Resilient brands are carrying us through the crisis and will emerge from the situation in a stronger position. Brand investment, in particular, is supporting the post-COVID-19 recovery, helping to create growth and safeguard prosperity.”

ÖBB leads the way in the sustainable brand category
The European Brand Institute has researched for the first time the contribution Austrian public companies and organisations are making to sustainable development in Austria in five categories: transport, utility infrastructure, energy providers, health and social care infrastructure. Finance is separated into four categories: brand leadership, products/services, social responsibility, and investment. ISO 20617 and 52 indicators derived from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been set out as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, formed part of the evaluation criteria. The results were then evaluated using the EBI Scoring Model and then converted into a ‘Sustainable Brand Rating’.

The sector leaders are: ÖBB (transport), APG (utility infrastructure), Wien Energie (energy providers), Erste Bank (finance), and Rotes Kreuz (health and social care infrastructure). The ÖBB scored top marks in the brand leadership, social responsibility and investment for Austria categories and took second place in the products/services categories. What’s more, the company has been named Austria’s top sustainable brand.

The most valuable brands in Austria are together worth more than 34 billion euros and are achieving record growth of +10%. Strong performance, innovation and digitalisation-driven strategic development and a strong commitment to social responsibility see Austria’s leading electricity supplier Verbund notching up the fastest growth in 2020 and showing +29.4% growth in brand value totalling 1.169 billion euros. This takes the company into the Top 10 for the first time ever.

Red Bull, Austria’s only member of the TOP 100 GLOBAL brands, was strengthened by a +14.6% increase and leads the way unchallenged with a brand value of 15.107 billion euros, making the company Austria’s most valuable brand of all.

Austria’s largest high-tech gaming technology company NOVOMATIC has recorded impressive results and continual brand value growth. The highly innovative company has filed an impressive 4,700 patent applications and has been propelled to second place for the first time ever. Brand value growth of +3.3% at 3.545 billion euros confirms the leading Austrian tech Group’s successful two-brand strategy, which incorporates both ADMIRAL (B2C) and NOVOMATIC (B2B). The Group’s success is also underpinned by a series of prestigious international awards and certifications as well as ADMIRAL’s famous brand ambassador David Hasselhoff.

Austria’s most prominent manufacturer of luxury goods Swarovski continues to come under pressure, seeing a marginal fall in brand value (-0.1%) to 3.462 billion euros, with the Group assuming third place in the rankings for the first time. Food retail giant SPAR Österreich Group continues on its growth trajectory, recording gains of +3.6% and a brand value of 2.151 billion euros, and therefore holding onto fourth position.

Erste Group Bank jumped two places up the rankings to fifth place with double-digit growth rates of +15.9% and a brand value of 2.113 billion euros, making the company Austria’s most valuable financial services brand. The Raiffeisen Banken Group is showing a stable performance in sixth place, achieving marginal growth in brand value of +0.1% to reach 2.061 billion euros.

ÖBB leads the way in sustainability. The ÖBB’s new branding strategy, which focuses sharply on a strong and holistic form of employer branding, its numerous product innovations designed to combat climate change, and its clear customer focus have enabled Austria’s most valuable mobility services provider to further increase its brand value by +1% to 1.912 billion euros. These impressive results underline the company’s innovative brand strength.

The oil and gas company OMV also recorded pleasing double-digit growth in brand value of +11.1%, reaching 1.478 billion euros in value. The third largest furniture retailer in the world the XXXLutz Group saw brand value growth of +11.3%. The dynamic company broke the 1-billion-euro mark for the first time ever as it celebrated its 75th jubilee year.

Gerhard Hrebicek, author of the study, President of the European Brand Institute, brand and patent valuation expert and ISO Chairman has revealed the following findings and identified potential opportunities for Austria’s brands:

  1. “The COVID-19 crisis has intensified the dynamism of digital transformation which already existed in the economy and across society on a global scale – a dynamism which is increasingly being dominated by brands and intangible assets.”
  2. “It has been shown that strong brands, especially sustainable brands, have maintained a stronghold in the crisis. Companies that have already developed value-orientated and sustainable strategies in order to become more resilient and to serve as societal linchpins. They also appear to be better equipped to withstand potential economic downturn and external shocks.”
  3. “It is a new era for brands to serve as assets – ISO 20671 provides a globally applicable and accepted standard for evaluating brand assets, which function as collateral (security) for bank financing and loans. ‘Sustainable brands’ also achieve superior returns and perform better.”
  4. “Therefore, an Austrian brand initiative is required, or, in other words, general tax and financing conditions as well as funding and initiatives specifically for Austrian brands are needed in order to stimulate economic growth during the post-COVID-19 recovery period.”

Christoph Schuh, company spokesman for Austrian Power Grid: “The coronavirus crisis has redefined brand values and has shown that socially responsible and sustainable brands form the backbone of the economy and society. These are strong brands which remain resilient over generations.”

Sophie Karmasin, Managing Director of Karmasin Research & Identity: “Not everything will be different when the coronavirus crisis is over, but it is crucial to know what will be different. The development of megatrends will accelerate dramatically due to the crisis. Digitalisation has entered our daily lives both privately and in the workplace, and it is difficult to imagine a world without it. We have happily become used to a sustainable, mindful and slower way of life. It is striking at the moment to see how much psychology is influencing the economy.”

Gerald Ganzger, Partner at Lansky, Ganzger & Partner: “The COVID-19 crisis has especially shown how important strong brands are. These types of brands are extremely important for business resilience as they make the company stronger and more robust. To ensure brands are strong, it is also important to protect and defend them legally.”

Herbert Kovar, Managing Partner Tax, Deloitte Austria: “Strong, sustainable brands act as a bulwark against the crisis. This is because strong brands are more able to help companies generate positive cash flows over a longer period. Companies with strong brands are more resistant to short-term cash flow shortfalls and able to withstand crises more effectively. COVID-19 is sort of like an ‘elk test’ for brands and other intangible assets. It is therefore even more important that the public authorities in Austria provide the best possible conditions for intangible assets such as brands and patents.”

The Austrian Brand Value Study 2020 focuses on companies from the Trend TOP500 rankings, which lists the strongest companies in Austria in terms of revenue. The study published in June 2020 has identified for the seventeenth time companies which are more than 45% Austrian owned and whose brand values can be assessed in accordance with the international standards ISO 10668 and ÖNORM A 6800. The Top 10 Austrian brands have been announced. Over 180 Austrian brands operating in 16 segments were analysed during the study.