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Which Big Four firm ranks highest for brand value at $26.7bn?

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 16 Jul 2021

Deloitte retained its position as the world’s most valuable and strongest commercial services brand for the third year running, amid a general slump in brand value as organisations grapple with COVID-19 turmoil.

The Big Four firm has a brand value of $26.7bn and an elite AAA+ brand rating, according to 

the Global 500 2021 rankings from brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance, pipping rival Big Four firms to the accolade. Meanwhile Visa has overtaken American Express and Accenture to claim 2nd spot, with a brand value of $26.5bn

According to Brand Finance, COVID-19 has restricted and delayed the capacity of commercial services businesses to monetise their brands and global lockdowns have delayed the implementation - and so deferred the revenue - of many projects, while some clients have restricted spending altogether.

However, the disruption of the last year went only some way to explaining extensive brand value declines. In particular Brand Finance says that ongoing economic uncertainty has left a question mark over the ability of commercial services businesses to commercially leverage their brands. 

Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation.

Although it has held onto pole position, Parul Soni, an Associate at Brand Finance, said Deloitte’s performance reflects the declines seen across the commercial services sector, with 18% of brand value lost A greater proportion of Deloitte’s revenue is derived from consulting as opposed to audit and assurance, which has left Deloitte more exposed to the impact of COVID-19 relative to the other Big Four. The story is similar for the rest of the Big Four: PwC (down 10% to $22.2bn) EY (down 14% to $20.3bn) and KPMG (down 18% to $12.2bn). 

However, the combination of Deloitte’s focus on putting people first, paired with over 175 years of experience, makes for a truly resilient and world leading brand, Brand Finance concludes. Soni also said that throughout history we have seen strong brands emerge more resilient through crises and tougher economic periods and Covid-19-induced economic volatility was no different. 

“This period has been a particularly important time for accountancy firms because of the spate of recent major accounting scandals and declining levels of trust in the industry and the major players dominating the sector. As a result, the brand plays an even greater role in helping organisations navigate challenges to their reputation and integrity,” Soni added. “Brands that will continue to evolve and adapt to address the changing perceptions and priorities of stakeholders will be more successful in retaining their key strengths and world leading brands.”

Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said Deloitte’s resilience was rooted in the firm’s ability to respond, adapt and evolve as the world has evolved. “Our brand is a symbol of that resilience and the connections we have forged that demonstrate the impact we make. It is also a tribute to how Deloitte has been able to pivot to meet clients’ changing needs, deepened investment in areas of greatest opportunity (such as transformation, cyber, digital and cloud), and supported communities.”

Among the top professional services brands, Accenture managed to buck the trend after seeing its brand value increase by 3% to $26bn. It’s focus on technology consulting allowed it to capitalise on a surge in demand for consulting services to help clients transition to digital solutions prompted by lockdowns and social distancing rules.