LONDON: HSBC, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are the most valuable banking brands in the world, but the sector as a whole is still struggling to repair its reputation with customers.

Brand Finance, the consultancy, revealed the value of the top 500 banking brands globally declined by $94.8bn on an annual basis in 2011 to $746.7bn, as continuing perception problems beset much of the category.

"With the on-going European sovereign debt crisis compounded by economic instability in Asia and political deadlock in America, it has been a very difficult time for banking brands around the world," David Haigh, the CEO of Brand Finance, said.

"The pain was not, however, distributed evenly," he added. "The Western giants are however, being joined by more challengers from the emerging markets."

HSBC led the charts on $27.6bn, a figure that was flat year on year. It received praise for delivering "solid results" and making progress in nations like China and India, the next frontiers of growth.

Wells Fargo was second, but down from $28.9bn to $23.2bn. Alongside suffering from the "pandemic anti-banking sector sentiment", the study suggested it had "failed to capitalise" on the expansion opportunities presented by the downturn.

Bank of America, which claimed top spot last year, logged a decline from $30.6bn to $22.9bn, as the firm's role in the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown exerted "damaging effects" on an "iconic brand".

Santander, in fourth, saw its net worth slide to just over $19.9bn, versus $26.2bn in 2011, due to macroeconomic problems, disappointing corporate results, and accusations of improper practices when selling protection policies in the UK.

JPMorgan Chase remained stable on $18.8bn, falling by only 1% despite being "vilified" by the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is now America's biggest bank in terms of assets, branches and deposits, overtaking Bank of America on this measure.

By region, North America's banks decreased in value by 27.5% to $203bn, their European counterparts endured a 24.6% contraction to $202bn, and Central and South American banks were off 9.6% to $71bn.

In contrast, Asian brands enjoyed growth of 25.7% to $190bn and providers in the Middle East were up 2.1% to $15.9bn. Operators in Africa, on $15.7bn, benefitted from exactly the same expansion.

Overall, the BRIC nations – or Brazil, Russia, India and China – were home to seven of the top 20 brands. This group was headed by Bradesco, from Brazil, on $18.7bn, and the China Construction Bank on $17.1bn, both inside the top ten.

Data sourced from Brand Finance; additional content by Warc staff