These six British blue-chip firms own some of the world's most valued brands.
In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare wrote:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
In other words, Shakespeare said that names don't matter; what matters is the essential nature of something or someone.
Shakespeare was wrong
Unfortunately, when it comes to corporate brands, the brilliant Bard of Avon is absolutely wrong. Indeed, some company names and brands are fantastically valuable, as the latest 2012 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report demonstrates.
In the seventh of its yearly brand reports, Millward Brown estimated that the world's top 100 brands are worth a total of $2.4 trillion (£1.5 trillion). That's a two-thirds (66%) increase in brand value between 2006 and 2012.
Furthermore, during these six years, a portfolio consisting of these highly valued brands would have beaten the S&P 500 -- the main US market index -- by 103%. In short, big brands often produce bumper returns for their owners, even during the worst recession since the 1930s.
The world's 10 biggest brands
For the record, here are the top 10 brands in the BrandZ list:
|Brand||Value ($bn)||Change on 2011 (%)|
As you can see, this is a list dominated by technology firms, with Apple, IBM, Google and Microsoft taking four of the top five slots.
The king of fast food, McDonald's, takes fourth spot, while syrupy drink Coca-Cola and cigarette maker Marlboro take sixth and seventh places. The remaining three slots are all taken by telecoms firms: AT&T, Verizon and China Mobile.
The UK's six biggest brands
Now let's take a look at some of Britain's biggest brand names. These six FTSE 100 firms are the only British entries in the Brandz top 100 table:
Taking top slot for the UK is telecoms Goliath Vodafone in 12th place (Vodafone also owns 45% of Verizon, which was ninth overall). Next up is mega-bank HSBC (31st), followed by the UK's biggest supermarket, Tesco, in 36th place.
In fourth and fifth places are oil leviathans Royal Dutch Shell (39th) and BP (77th), but note the 17% drop in BP's brand value from 2011 to 2012, against Shell's 17% rise. Emerging-market bank Standard Chartered takes the sixth and final British slot, a mere 79th overall in the world.
Big, beautiful brands
For the record, I view all of these companies as British heroes ideal for investors. Indeed, I'd be happy to own shares in all of the British top five, as each is a dividend monster in its own right.
Furthermore, one of these six UK brands is also a firm favourite of multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, the world's most acclaimed investor. In fact, the Oracle of Omaha has bought more than 5% of this brilliant British brand, spending a couple of billion pounds in the process. To find out more about this national treasure, download our free report today: The UK Business That Buffett Is Buying.
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> Cliff does not own any of the shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Tesco.