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Brand value is more evenly distributed in the BrandZ™ Japan rankings than is typically the case in the valuations markets we analyze. In those other countries, a nation’s top ten brands are worth an average of 72 percent of the total value of the market’s 30 biggest brands. In Japan, by contrast, the top ten brands comprise only 64 percent of the total top 30 brand value.

In all, brands from 17 categories are recognized in this inaugural Japan brand ranking, leading to a remarkably balanced and representative list.

This is not to say, however, that there are not standout brands and categories in this year’s BrandZ™ Japan Top 50. With a total brand value of $28.955 billion, Toyota is Japan’s number one most valuable brand, and represents over 10 percent of the Top 50’s overall value. Cars is the largest category by value in the BrandZ™ Japan Top 50, with six brands accounting for a quarter (25 percent) of the total value.

After the cars industry, telecom is the next biggest category by share of total brand value (at 17 percent), with NTT, Softbank, and au all finishing within the Japan Top 10. These companies have continued to innovate and expand into areas like 5G, mobile payments, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things, all while weathering recent changes to bundling and fee regulations and preparing for the entry of Rakuten into the mobile space.

Retail is the third-largest category, and placed the greatest number brands in the Japan Top 50, with 12 brands accounting for 13 percent of the ranking’s total value. Close behind was the technology category, with 12 percent of the ranking’s total value. This 12 percent was contributed by only four brands, but they are all iconic Japanese names: three longtime stalwarts in Sony, Canon, and Panasonic, plus one exciting digital brand in LINE.

Compared to other brands in the Japan Top 50, Japanese car brands are seen as more trustworthy, desirable and well designed. But they also lack meaning, difference and a strong brand experience, impacting their growth potential. That being said, Japanese auto brands are by no means a homogenous bunch, and each has its strengths, weaknesses, and special competencies (e.g. Suzuki’s focus on smaller vehicles, Nissan’s early embrace of eco models).