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Pioneers thriving in times of uncertainty

Innovation proves key to helping brands flourish

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate the brands that have made it into the newly expanded WPP BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands ranking.

These brands have not only risen to the top of a highly competitive and crowded environment for goods and services, they’ve done so in extraordinary circumstances.

I’ve lived and worked in the UK market long enough to have seen several economic cycles; to have seen booms go bust and bounce back again. There are big UK brands – household names not just here but around the world – that have weathered many a storm and which feature in our 2018 ranking, having built up their reputation over many decades.

But this is an environment in which no brand in no category can take its position for granted. Disruptors are rewriting the rules, raising consumers’ expectations, and winning investor backing.

Pioneers, risk-takers and creative entrepreneurs are those who see opportunity where others see only adversity. They say fortune favours the brave, and the 2018 Top 75 UK Brands ranking bears this out. Yet there remains considerable scope for further innovation, even among these winning brands.

Powerful connections

In the past year, financial technology brands in the UK – none of which yet have the scale to rank in our Top 75 – have attracted a £1.34 billion in investment, while UK companies developing artificial intelligence capabilities have attracted levels of funding tracked at 50 percent higher than in 2016.

But innovation is not just the domain of tech-related brands, and our ranking charts the success of brands in other categories that have invested in innovation.

Dove, for instance, is constantly refreshing its commitment to promoting natural beauty and, at the same time, rolling out new specialist product ranges. Long-established brands such as Tesco and Royal Mail stand out as strong innovators. And several UK brands have been innovating through partnerships with tech companies, using technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and machine learning. Shell’s in-car payment option, developed with IBM, is one example of this kind of symbiosis in action; Burberry’s use of AI-powered chatbots for customer service is another.

The importance of innovation to the UK market is why, in this report, there’s an entire section focusing on the “Innovation Gap” we see growing between the brightest and boldest brands, and those that are simply keeping their heads above water.

We probe beyond the ranking itself to understand the varied strengths of the best performers. Our expert analysis covers the many factors that together fuel brand strength and strong financial returns – two key business indicators that BrandZ research globally over more than a decade has proved are inextricably linked.

We look at emerging consumer trends that are shaping new media consumption habits and shopper behaviour, and present insight from across the WPP Group into subjects as varied as augmented reality, how social media influencers can work for brands, and how individual business sectors relate to women.

And we shine a light on global citizens’ perceptions of what “Made in the UK” means to them. We present exclusive analysis of the latest data from the “Best Countries” global study, undertaken by Y&R’s BAV Group, with partners US News and the Wharton Business School. This captures the views of ordinary consumers and business leaders on what “Brand UK” represents, and how UK brands can use this to their advantage.

WPP has 17,000 talented people working in the UK, providing advertising, marketing, research and PR expertise. Our companies work together to provide clients with cutting-edge insights that help position brands for market-beating growth.

The global WPP network now extends to 112 markets, and our BrandZ catalogue is expanding all the time. If you enjoy this UK report, I invite you to browse our long-running Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands annual study, as well as our rankings and reports into the leading brands in the following markets: China, India, Indonesia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia. All are available from www.BrandZ.com and through our interactive mobile apps, at www.BrandZ.com/mobile.

To talk to someone about how WPP’s expertise could help your brand, feel free to contact any of the WPP companies who have contributed to this report. I’d also be delighted to hear from you directly.


David Roth

CEO, The Store WPP, EMEA & Asia

And Chairman, BAV Group


Twitter: davidrothlondon

Blog: www.davidroth.com