These are the UK's top 10 brands

Aldi takes the top spot, while the Co-Operative Bank and Wonga appear to be bouncing back from scandal.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 01 Apr 2016

The ascent of the discount supermarkets is still very much in progress. Aldi and Lidl have gone from strength to strength in recent months, topped off by double digit sales rises over Christmas according to Kantar Worldpanel. So it’s not surprising to see the German chains remain unchallenged in the top two spots in YouGov's BrandIndex, a ranking of the UK's biggest household names.

The supermarkets were followed by BBC iPlayer in third. The streaming service was probably lucky that the rankings weren’t only compiled at the end of the year since it was subject to a cyber attack right at the end of December. John Lewis and Dyson rounded out the top five. 

In the race to be viewed a bit less negatively than the year before, the Co-Operative Bank was the dubious winner. The bank's 2015 ranking was a pretty mediocre -1.4 (the top ten overall brands scored at least 9), but a big jump from its 2014 showing of -15.7.

That was the year when a £1.5bn black hole was found in its accounts, forcing the bank to raise emergency funds and leading to hedge funds and institutions taking control. The drugs scandal surrounding former chairman Paul Flowers also didn't do much for its public image. The launch of a new ethical policy (which involved extending the list of firms it refused to finance) and a £5.5bn TV ad campaign featuring a man getting 'Ethics & Values' tattooed on his back might actually have paid off a little.

Another embattled financial firm facing an uphill battle to restore its reputation came second in the 'most improved' list. Wonga's score of -20.6 was the worst of all the improved brands. But hey, better than the -32 it recorded in 2014. 

The payday lender has been caught up in scandal after scandal. In June 2014 it was ordered to pay more than £2.6m compensation to customers by the Financial Conduct Authority after it was found to have sent threatening letters to them from fake law firms. Later that year it was forced to write off £220m of loans to some 375,000 customers, admitting they should never have been approved. The firm has since focused on rebranding with a campaign called 'credit for the real world', in an effort to present typical customers who need a 'responsible' source of short-term credit. The Wongies puppets which had previously featured in the TV ads were binned entirely. 

Brand rankings are fickle and hardly concrete valuations of a firm though – the YouGov Index asks respondents if they’ve heard anything positive or negative about the brand (nearly 1,200 are considered) in the last two weeks, whether through advertising, news or word of mouth. The final scores are the average ratings over the course of the year.

An already strong brand raking in the sales may not be quite so bothered about churning out advertising to up its reputation, and consequently might not benefit from the positive swell of opinion in the rankings that less consistent performers do after a concerted campaign.

But rankings like these do give an indication as to what might be working. Aldi and Lidl (with scores of 19.7 and 17.5 respectively) have had a no frills approach compared to many other retailers, but the selective yet creative advertising paid off – Aldi’s John Lewis Christmas ad spoof generated a great deal of attention. Positive news surrounding both products and policy – Lidl became the first UK supermarket to implement the living wage in September - have unsurprisingly proved popular with public perception of the brands.

Sarah Murphy, the director of YouGov’s BrandIndex UK, said Aldi and Lidl’s marketing strategies had evolved over the past year. ‘While they have always marketed themselves being value for money, the emphasis is now on the quality side of that bargain and not just the cost.’

The 'most improved' top ten features some arguably surprising names, but it's perhaps a sign of the times that so many financial institutions made the cut. And an indication that the public do respond to genuine steps made to repair damaged reputations - Tesco's efforts to improve its supplier relations for example. Though it's all relative after a monumental accounting scandal, isn't it? Particularly when your rating still languishes at -12.

 

YouGov BrandIndex Top 10 UK Brands of 2015

Rank

Brand

Score

1

Aldi

19.7

2

Lidl

17.5

3

BBC iPlayer

13.5

4

John Lewis

12.1

5

Dyson

11.6

6

Marks & Spencer

11.2

7

Yorkshire Tea

10.1

8

YouTube

9.7

9

MoneySavingExpert.com

9.4

10

Apple

9.0

10

Waitrose

9.0

 

YouGov BrandIndex Top 10 most improved brands of 2015 

Rank

Brand

2015 Score

2014 Score

Change in Score

1

Co-operative Bank

-1.4

-15.7

14.4

2

Wonga.

-20.6

-32.0

11.4

3

British Gas

-3.2

-10.2

7.0

4

The Co-operative

2.7

-3.7

6.4

5

Royal Bank of Scotland

-8.8

-15.1

6.3

6

Co-operative Insurance

0.5

-5.6

6.1

7

Lloyds Bank

-1.0

-7.0

6.0

8

Ryanair

-6.8

-12.7

5.9

9

Tesco

-12.0

-17.5

5.5

10

Barclays

-5.4

-10.6

5.2

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