By Douglas A. McIntyre, 24/7 Wall St.
In the U.S.-centric world most Americans live in, all the greatest and most valuable brands were created here. Several studies by brand valuation experts show that to be true. But some of the world’s most valuable brands are not only owned by companies outside the United States, they are brands that many Americans know nothing about and may never have heard of. 24/7 Wall St. has taken a look at some of these brands and found that the U.S. is not the only brand capital.
U.S. brands that dominate the top spots of most brand valuation lists include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Marlboro, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and IBM. These top brands fall into one of two categories. They are either technology or consumer products brands. They are also all global. Apple, Microsoft and IBM have tremendous overseas sales. McDonald’s has restaurants around the world.
The most valuable brands owned by companies outside the U.S. fall into two different categories. The first is financial services and banks. The most widely known and highly valued of these brands have also been around for some time. RBS, the largest bank in Canada, is more than a century old. So is Sberbank in Russia.
The second set of famous overseas brands are cellular phone companies. By their nature they are relatively new, because the wireless revolution is barely 20 years old. China Mobile was incorporated in 1997. Japan’s NTT DoCoMo was formed in 1992.
To pick the most valuable brands that Americans have not heard of, 24/7 Wall St. relied on the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2012. We ranked the brands that made the list based on gross domestic product of country of origin, and then picked the most valuable brands from the eleven largest countries based on that GDP measurement. In order to exclude well-known brands in America, those with very large market share in the U.S were excluded. That meant Toyota, BMW and Louis Vuitton did not make the cut.
These are the most famous brands Americans don’t know:
Brand value: $10.6 billion
National GDP: $2.5 trillion
Industry: Oil and Gas
Petrobras says that it is the fifth largest energy company in the world, making it similar in size to Chevron and BP plc. Petrobras was founded in 1953 by the Brazilian government, which still owns 50% of the total shares. It is the largest company in the country. Outside the traditional oil and gas productive industries, Petrobras also operates in the biofuels and alternative energy sectors. According to the Financial Times, Petrobras has the largest capital spending budget of any corporation in the world at $236.5 billion. Petrobras needs the money. It is the largest deepwater oil producer in the world with huge reserves off the Brazilian coast miles beneath the Atlantic.
Brand value: $19.2 billion
National GDP: $2.7 trillion
Hermes was founded by Thierry Hermes in the 1830s. The company currently makes and markets a large line of luxury fashion goods, accessories, watches and purses made from materials as exotic as crocodile. Hermes has stores throughout the world and has aggressively moved into emerging markets such as China, where it has stores in 17 cities; India, where it has locations in three cities; and Indonesia, where it has locations in two. Its reputation among luxury brands helped drive extraordinary growth in the first half of 2012 during which revenue rose 21.9% to 1.6 billion euros, according to the company’s financial statements. Watch sales were a significant part of the improvement with a 31% rise in revenue for the period.
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3. Deutsche Telekom
Brand value: $26.8 billion
National GDP: $3.6 trillion
Deutsche Telekom has a larger worldwide base than most other global telecom companies. While AT&T and Verizon do not have huge operations overseas, Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile, the No. 4 wireless provider in the U.S. T-Mobile will soon merge with MetroPCS, pending approval. Deutsche Telekom also owns T-Mobile Netherlands, and operations in Hungary, Greece, Austria, and much of Eastern Europe. According to the company, it had 236,000 employees at the end of 2011 and operated in 50 countries. Revenue in 2011 was approximately 58 billion euros. As cellular penetration in nations such as Germany and the U.S. reaches saturation point, large telecom providers such as Deutsche Telekom have to find new avenues to increase sales. Like many of its global peers, Deutsche Telekom has pressed into 4G technology to find new sources of revenue.
2. NTT DoCoMo
Brand value: $16.0 billion
National GDP: $5.8 trillion
NTT DoCoMo was spun out of Japan telecommunications company NTT in 1992. The offshoot company was created to hold the mobile assets of the former parent company, which once had a market monopoly similar to the one AT&T had in the U.S. until the 1970s. DoCoMo launched its first digital network in 1993 and has added 60 million customers since. It claims that it has about half of the entire wireless market in Japan. Two companies have emerged as major competitors: KDDI and Softbank. Softbank recently said it would buy a majority interest in Sprint-Nextel, making it the first of the Japanese wireless companies to make a substantial move into the American market.
1. China Mobile
Brand value: $47.0 billion
National GDP: $7.2 trillion
China Mobile is the leading wireless services provider in the People’s Republic. The company says it has both the world’s largest wireless network and the world’s largest wireless customer base. That’s because China Mobile has roughly 700 million customers, which is well over twice the number of people who live in the U.S. China Mobile is a relatively new company, but so is the global wireless industry in general. First incorporated in September 1997, China Mobile has plans to shepherd its customer base to 4G ultra-fast broadband systems just as Verizon Wireless and AT&T are doing in the U.S.