The AT&T brand value surged 45% higher in 2016, propelling the company to the to the top of Brand Finance’s 2017 ranking of the world’s 500 most valuable telecom brands. Brand Finance valued the AT&T brand at $87 billion, up from 2016’s $59.9 billion, garnering the company an overall brand value ranking of “AAA,” a notch higher than the AA+ it earned last year.

AT&T’s ability to continue realizing greater value and gain market share as a result of its 2015 acquisition of DirecTV, and its ability to generate growth via acquisitions in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, were the main factors that drove its Brand Finance brand value higher this past year, according to a news release.

Verizon added to its brand value in 2016, though not enough to maintain its ranking as the world’s most valuable telecom brand, according to Brand Finance’s latest annual valuation. Verizon posted a two-point gain in its overall Brand Finance index score and a 4% increase in the value of its brand.

Germany’s “T” (Deutsche Telekom) group ranked third in telecom brand value globally and first in Europe. Growth is by and large coming from outside Europe, however. T’s 10 percent gain in brand value came largely as a result of higher revenues and increased market share in the U.S. T-Mobile US  added roughly 969,000 subscriber in 3Q 2016, far outpacing AT&T and Verizon, which added 450,000 and 200,000, respectively, Brand Finance highlights.

Telecom Infrastructure Brands
Turning to the world’s top 500 telecom infrastructure brands, Brand Finance ranks Huawei top of league this. year, a repeat performance. Huawei tacked another $25 billion to its brand value last year, 28 percent higher than a year ago. Successful global marketing campaigns, which included celebrity endorsements, propelled Huawei’s brand recognition to 81%, up from 76% in 2015.

Qualcomm posted the highest rate of growth in brand value among telecom infrastructure providers globally. Its brand value surged 65% higher, to $6.8 billion. Disputes with Apple regarding claims that Qualcomm is exploiting its dominant market position by charging excessive royalties casts a dark cloud over Qualcomm’s fortunes going forward, however, Brand Finance notes.

The market research provider also singles out Nokia as one of 2017’s most remarkable success stories. Nokia’s Brand Finance brand value peaked at $33.1 billion in 2008, making it the ninth most valuable brand across all sectors. Its brand value turned south as it was slow to respond to the introduction of touch-screen smartphones and greater competition from Apple and Samsung, which sent its Brand Finance brand value plummeting.

Nokia’s brand value has been on an uptrend since hitting bottom at $2 billion in 2014, Brand Finance highlights. Selling off its mobile device division, rebranding as Nokia Networks and acquiring a controlling stake in Alcatel-Lucent in 2016 has set the company “firmly on the road to recovery,” Brand Finance says.

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