It is not unusual for the Tata group to top brand valuation charts, as it has done several years in a row. But what has come as a surprise, in the 2019 study by UK-based Brand Finance of the nation’s leading 100 brands, is the sharp jump in brand valuation achieved by the salt-to-software business house.

The 2019 list, released exclusively to Business Standard, shows a 37 per cent jump in brand value for the Tata group, to $19.55 billion for 2019, the highest in the top 25. Last year, the group had achieved a brand value of $14.23 billion, which was a jump of nearly nine per cent over the previous year.

“The Tata group’s presence across sectors makes it a pioneering force to reckon with,” says David Haigh, chief executive officer, Brand Finance, about the conglomerate’s performance this year.

Insurance giant LIC has jumped two places in the 2019 list to second spot at $7.32 billion, growing nearly 23 per cent in brand value over last year, while Infosys is third at $6.5 billion, registering a year-on-year growth of 7.7 per cent. State Bank of India, Mahindra, HDFC Bank, Airtel, HCL, Reliance Industries and Wipro occupy the fourth to tenth positions on the list.

Barring Airtel which has dropped sharply in terms of brand value at 28 per cent this year, the others in the fourth to tenth spots have grown between 1.7 per cent and 35.5 per cent. The latter for the Mahindra group, which jumped from eleventh position in 2018 to fifth this year, touching a brand value of $5.24 billion. Three of the country’s top banks, SBI, HDFC and ICICI, are amongst the top 12 this year and are part of the 14 bank brands that figure in the top 100, Haigh said.

Coming at a time when the domestic banking sector is facing challenges in terms of tighter lending norms and greater scrutiny of corporate governance practices, the performance of bank brands comes as a surprise, said experts. Some of the other banks in the Top 100 include Kotak Mahindra Bank at Rank 23, Axis Bank at 26, Bank of Baroda at 45, Canara Bank at 58 and Bank of India at 68 respectively. Their brand values hover between $0.42 billion and $1.78 billion.

Brand Finance has also released the top 10 strongest brands this year as part of its annual study of the country’s leading names, placing Jio at number one, HDFC Bank at number two and Indian Oil at number three spots. Maruti Suzuki, Indigo, Airtel, LIC, Bharat Petroleum, ACC and Amul complete the list.

Jio is also ranked fourteenth in the Top 100 this year with a brand value of $3.56 billion, the first time it has figured in the ranking, said Haigh. Some other debutants this year include Dmart, ranked 33, with a brand value of $0.93 billion and Patanjali at 51, with a brand value of $0.61 billion.

Haigh says that these are brands to watch out for in the future. As far as the Tatas are concerned, this is the first time in seven years that the group has crossed $18 billion in brand value, data from Brand Finance’s earlier reports show. It was in 2013, that the 151-year-old group had achieved a brand value of $18.1 billion, which then declined to $14.7 billion in 2014 and touched $15.3 billion in 2015. Between 2016 and 2018, Tata’s brand value remained largely in the $13-14 billion bracket.

While some experts have linked Tata’s roller coaster ride on the brand charts to its corporate performance and boardroom battles, Haigh points to its leadership position across categories.

Though headwinds remain in sectors such as automotive, steel and chemicals, notably in its international operations, the group has maintained leadership in the domestic market in these segments and also counts on categories such as information technology, hotels and consumer goods as key drivers.

In May, the group consolidated its food brands with Tata Global Beverages and plans to make deeper inroads in home and personal care in the future.