MUMBAI: HDFC Bank has been named India's most valuable brand in the first such ranking by BrandZ which is dominated at the top level by services companies.

The Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands, compiled by marketing and brand consultancy Millward Brown in conjunction with WPP, assesses not just the financial worth of a brand but also takes account of consumers' opinions. It said that India had evolved into a "brand powerhouse", with these top 50 having as much Brand Power – defined as consumers' predisposition to choose that brand over another – as the global Top 50, while also being ahead of other emerging economies.

Despite that, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell said that "India is underbranded in our view – it's underadvertised", as he explained adspend constitutes a steady proportion of GDP in mature markets but is growing faster than the wider economy in emerging markets.

With a value of $9.4bn, HDFC Bank was the clear leader, ahead of wireless telecoms brand Airtel, in second place worth $8.2bn, and the county's largest commercial bank, State Bank of India, was third, worth $6.8bn.

Banks and telecoms brands took another four of the top ten places, including ICICI Bank, in fourth worth $3.5bn, telecoms business Idea in eighth worth $1.9bn, Kotak Mahindra Bank in ninth worth $1.7bn and Reliance Communications, another telecoms brand, in tenth worth $1.6bn.

Overall, services businesses such as these, including banking, telecoms and insurance, made up 30% of the top 50, with 12 banks and insurers accounting for 37% of their combined brand value of almost $70bn.

Two auto brands also made the top ten – Bajaj Auto, in sixth place worth $3.0bn, and Hero Motor Corp, in seventh worth $2.2bn. Asian Paints, in sixth spot and worth $2.8bn, rounded out the leading ten brands.

Across the top 50, brands from a total of 13 different categories featured, including 17 multi-national corporations, 26 private Indian brands and seven state-owned brands.

"Any global manufacturer that makes the effort to understand the diversity of the Indian consumer's needs, tastes and aspirations, and which can build a proposition that is both meaningful and appropriately differentiated, will succeed in building a strong brand," said Prasun Basu, Millward Brown's Managing Director – South Asia.

Another crucial aspect of the market was highlighted by David Roth, CEO of The Store, WPP. "With the second highest number of social networking users in the world, and the third highest number of users of mobile devices, developing an e-commerce strategy that focuses on social and mobile platforms is essential for brands in this region," he said.

Data sourced from BrandZ, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff