British Airways tops Superbrands list for the first time

British Airways has toppled Rolex to be crowned the most respected brand in the UK for the first time as Apple plummeted below Google and Andrex in the latest Superbrands survey. 

british airways

2012 Olympic sponsorship helps British Airways rise above Rolex and Coca-Cola to top annual Super Brands list.

The airline beat more than 1,500 companies to the summit of the annual ranking of brand strength in the UK thanks in part to the residual impact from its sponsorship of the London 2012 Games and the popularity of its “To Fly. To Serve” marketing campaign. 

Swiss luxury watch maker Rolex fell to second after being unable to defend the top spot for a third year running. The list, based on the opinions of more than 3,000 British adults, also saw the BBC climb ten places to third suggesting it has recovered from the Jimmy Savile scandal that tarnished the brand in 2012.

The most notable causality on the list was last year’s runner-up Apple. The technology maker dropped to 14th place below Google and Microsoft in a year that saw it recieve a muted response to new product launches. 

Despite Apple’s dip, it is still the most valuable brand in the world. It led 2013’s BrandZ list of the top 100 valuable global brands ahead of Google, and IBM as well as topping Brand Finance’s ranking - determined by a mix of revenue, market capitalisation, perception and desirability.

Apple’s drop reflected a difficult year for the technology sector, according to the research, with Google dropping from sixth to seventh and Microsoft slipping from third to sixth. Facebook, which ranked 14th last year, fell out of the top 20 entirely, despite seeing its brand valuation soar in 2013 by 76 per cent, according to Brand Finance.

Stephen Cheliotis, chief executive of the Centre for Brands Analysis and chairman of the Superbrands Council, says: “It is increasingly clear that in the short-term at least Apple is struggling to maintain its enviable innovation record in the eyes of consumers, while failing to inspire individuals without its hugely influential leader, the late Steve Jobs. Apple¹s reputation is taking a hit while, the fall of its US peers suggests a growing lethargy among consumers towards the American tech giants in general.” 

Superbrands top 20 brands:

  1. British Airways
  2. Rolex
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. BBC
  5. Heinz
  6. Microsoft
  7. Google
  8. Gillette
  9. Kellogg’s
  10. BMW
  11. Cadbury
  12. Andrex
  14. Apple
  15. Boots
  16. Nike
  17. Sony
  18. Marks & Spencer
  19. Shell
  20. Mercedes-Benz

Readers' comments (5)

  • That is a real surprise to me and I would assume a lot of others too. Of the brands on the list I use or have used 15 in the last twelve months and the worse experience I had was with BA and I don't think I am alone. Terminal 5 is great, check in is easy and quick but the planes are tired (the ones I have flown on) and the handling of the 24 hr delay I experienced was shocking. I wouldn't have put it at the top of my list and it would have been lucky to make the top 20. Does anyone else feel like this?

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  • In response to Iain Lovatt's question - no, I personally don't feel the same, quite the contrary. After years of being trampled over by lower-cost, low-quality airlines and being the butt of a few advertising campaigns by rivals, it's nice that BA have come out on top. Their service (in my opinion) is unrivalled by any other airline, and the decision to emphasise "British" as part of their brand in more recent years is an excellent one and brings out the patriot in me. With so many cheaper alternatives, it's great that they have maintained the glamour of flying where they can as well as keeping up with the market by rolling out cheaper fares. Bear in mind long delays are often out of their control and many other airlines would be in the same position and would probably deal with it much worse than BA do...

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  • Have to echo the comments of Pippa Walker. I've never found BA to be anything but accommodating, friendly and above the norm' in terms of service. There will always be exceptions to the rule but in my experience they are easily a step ahead of the competition and will always be my airline of choice.

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  • In terms of marketing and branding, BA have eclipsed certainly any other UK airline, and most other brands in general over the past 12 months. Clearly at a substantial cost, their messages have been strong, recurrent and memorable, and brought the BA brand back into my mind.
    If I then consider the physical service experienced on the back of these marketing messages, as a frequent flier I'd have to say that it is still very average, and compared to the likes of Qatar Airways and Emirates, there's still a huge gap in terms of the levels of service and facilities provided, and therefore the marketing messages are very disjointed from the real life experience of BA.

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  • I don't know what the judging criteria are, but am quite surprised that a luxury brand like Rolex is up there in the first place. It's probably the only brand on that list that I have never had any type of interaction with. I have no problem with BA being at the top of the tree, but would have expected to see Sainsbury's Paralympics sponsorship help secure them a spot in the top 20...

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