LONDON: Vodafone, HSBC and Tesco are the most valuable brands in the UK, having all strengthened their positions in the last year despite adverse economic conditions.

According to Brand Finance, the consultancy, the top 50 firms in the country now boast a combined net worth of £199bn ($313bn; €239bn), compared with £166bn in a similar study published in 2009.

Vodafone, the mobile telecoms and communications firm, led the rankings on £17.9bn, an uptick of almost £1bn year-on-year.

It was credited for expanding the scope of its operations far beyond its home market, such as into India and several African states.

“Vodafone in particular has done very well this year. But it isn't necessarily because of its performance in the UK, but because of its performance globally,” said David Haigh, ceo of Brand Finance.

HSBC, the financial services provider, claimed second spot on £17.6bn, equivalent to an improvement of under £100m on 2009, and lost its hold on pole position as a consequence.

Tesco, the retail giant, was third on £12.8bn, and has recently attempted to establish a presence in the US and broadened its range of activities to cover everything from mobile phones to banking.

Fourth-placed Orange, another telecoms specialist, experienced a modest decline of £258m to £11.3bn, and slipped down the table as a result.

The corresponding total recorded by oil group Shell rose by nearly £2bn to £10.5bn, and it also had the highest “brand to enterprise value” in the top ten, with its trademark contributing 33% of the latter figure.

BP, one of its main rivals - and the company with the largest stock market capitalisation - fell to seventh on £7.5bn, although the analysis was conducted before the fallout from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By category, five of the six featured banks saw their values increase, with Barclays posting particularly impressive growth of close to £3bn, to £8.1bn.

Michelle McEttrick, Barclays chief marketing officer for global retail banking, said the recession had “artificially deflated” its score last year, but added that its resilience in the financial crisis had proved beneficial.

“Our own research reveals that Barclays is seen as secure and trustworthy and these are things that are more and more important in a bank these days,” she said.

“Social media and communicating with a younger audience will be a major focus for staying close to customers. As we see more and more of our customers being involved in social media, we will be there.”

Unilever, the owner of Lynx, Marmite and Hellmann's and one of the world's biggest advertisers, came outside the top 40, as its corporate brand was only argued to represent 2% of its overall value.

The company has outlined plans to change this situation, such as including its logo in ads for all the item across its portfolio.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff