Star Wars Success Propels Disney to World's Most Powerful Brand

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Robots R2-D2 and C-3P0 attend the opening of the European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in London, on Dec. 16, 2015.

Photographer: Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images
  • Lego declines to No. 2 after fine, Weiwei censorship claim
  • Volkswagen falls in study by London-based Brand Finance

Walt Disney is the world’s most powerful brand, thanks to the likable robots R2-D2 and C-3P0, who propelled the entertainment company to the top spot following the box office success of ‘‘Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” London-based Brand Finance said.

With Star Wars’ brand value alone estimated at $10 billion, Disney is reaping rewards from the $4 billion it paid for Lucasfilm in 2012, according to Brand Finance, which ranks brand strength based on familiarity, loyalty, promotion and marketing investment. The latest Star Wars installment was the fastest film to take in $1 billion and is Disney’s most successful. Star Wars toys have so far generated more than $700 million, Brand Finance said Monday.

Toymaker Lego A/S fell to the No. 2 spot following a fine by German regulators for trying to prevent retailers from discounting Lego products, as well as Lego’s refusal to sell Ai Weiwei the bricks in bulk, which the Chinese artist called an act of censorship. The Top 10 powerful brands list was rounded out by companies including L’Oreal SA, Nike Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.

Brand Finance distinguishes brand strength from the financial value of brands, which it also estimates. Apple remained the most valuable brand in Brand Finance’s ranking at $146 billion, thanks to the success of the iPhone 6. Google surpassed Samsung to become No. 2 at $94 billion.

Brand Finance singled out a handful of Chinese brands for their strong performance. Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s messaging app WeChat boosted its brand value 83 percent to $6.5 billion, and real estate company Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. more than doubled the valued of its brand.

Volkswagen AG was among the year’s worst performing brands, hurt by the emissions scandal that has roiled the company. Its brand value declined by $12 billion to $18.9 billion, Brand Finance said.

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