BEIJING: Brands from the financial services, telecoms and online sectors such as ICBC, China Mobile and Baidu dominate a new ranking of China's most valuable intangible assets. 

The Hurun Research Institute, the think tank, and GMI, the survey firm, polled Chinese consumers about their favourite brands, combining the results with analysis of each asset and economic data, AdAge reported.

Leading the charts was the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, or ICBC, worth an estimated $43.6bn, and which has been focusing on building up its network of branches in developing urban areas and on the web.

As part of its effort to establish a "fourth generation" service, ICBC also launched apps for both the iPhone and iPad earlier this year, alongside enhancing its SMS and online customer service capabilities.

China Mobile, the country's biggest wireless provider with over 600m subscribers, took second place on $42.2bn, having assumed the number one position in each of the last five years.

Such a shift reflects the strength of the Chinese financial services sector, but also demonstrated the challenges China Mobile has faced in creating a meaningful 3G user base and stimulating uptake of its smartphones, like the OPhone. 

The China Construction Bank, another financial services group, was third with $35.9bn, with online giant Baidu on $24.4bn, having taken 76% of search revenues in Q2 2011, per Analysys International.

Following next was the Bank of China with $22.4bn, trailed by China Life, the insurance provider, on $15.6bn.

QQ, Tencent's instant messaging service, was valued at $11.8bn, and formed part of a broader positive trend experienced by internet firms.

"The big surprise from my point of view was seeing the top [web] companies come shooting up," said Rupert Hoogewerf, of The Hurun Research Institute. "Baidu has broken into the top five most valuable brands in China today. That's a phenomenal achievement."

Based on Hurun's estimates, the only other intangible assets boasting a value of more than $10bn were the Agricultural Bank of China on $11.6bn and PingAn, also in the insurance sector, on $11bn.

In its study, the Hurun Research Institute assessed consumer-facing brands only. This means that business-to-business groups, such as communications giant Huawei, were not included.

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff