Interbrand announces 2021 Best Korea Brands

The value of Korea’s Top 50 brands totals 159 trillion KRW, and increased by 36% in seven years.

  • The Decade of Possibilities: The brand strategies that overturn the markets, implications, and strategies for the next 10 years in the post-COVID age announced
  • Total brand value of the 2021 Top 50 brands totals 159 trillion KRW, increased by 3.3% compared to 2020, and increased by 36% compared to 2014 (116 trillion KRW)
  • Brand value of the Top 5 (Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, Kia, Naver, SK Telecom) is about 101.5 trillion KRW, taking up 63.87% of the Top 50 brands entire value
  • The Top 3 brands by rate of increase in brand value: Kakao (2.5489 trillion KRW, 55.4%), Kium Securities (528.3 billion won, 30.2%), and LG Household and Healthcare (1.9858 trillion, 55.4%)
  • Seven brands including online-based brands benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Securities transaction brands: Coupang, Baemin, NH Investment Securities, Hive, GS Construction, Kurly, and Kakao Bank, were the new entrants to the Top 50 list
  • The focus of the evaluation was on listed companies, but unlisted companies with high potential were evaluated as well

(June 24, 2021, Seoul) Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Korea’s brand power was reconfirmed. The world’s leading brand consultancy Interbrand today announced Korea’s Top 50 brands and published “The age of possibilities: The brand strategies that overturn the markets” for the next 10 years.

It was determined that the total brand value of Korea’s Top 50 brands in 2021 is 159 trillion KRW.  This amount is an increase of about five trillion KRW, and a 3.3% growth rate compared to the previous year – even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This amount represents an increase of 36% compared to 116 trillion KRW, which was the value of the Top 50 Best Korean brands published for the first time in 2014. Based on this, we know the leading Korean companies responded flexibly to the market situation even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Best Korea Brands Top 5: Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, Kia, Naver, SK Telecom

The brand value of Samsung Electronics (ranked number one) is 69 trillion KRW, which an increase of 2% compared to last year. Hyundai Motor’s (number two) brand value is 15 trillion KRW, which is an increase of 1% compared to last year. Kia’s (number three) brand value is 6.4896 trillion KRW, which is an increase of 9%, followed by Naver (number four) with the brand value of 6.4742 trillion KRW, which is an increase of 4.9%, and SK Telecom (number five) with the brand value of 3.5083 billion, which is an increase of 2.8%.  The collective brand value of the Top five brands is 101.4849 trillion KRW, making up 63.87% of the total brand value of the Top 50 brands.

For Best Korea Brands 2021, both listed companies as well as unlisted companies with high potential were evaluated. That is because it was determined that those companies that are still not listed but generate enhanced customer convenience and generate new customer experiences by getting deeply involved in people’s lives qualify to be included as one of the companies for “The decade of possibilities: The brand strategies that overturn the markets.”  As a result, such companies as Coupang, Baemin, Kurly, and other companies entered the Top 50 list for the first time.

Companies that recorded top growth were Kakao, Kium Securities, LG Household and Healthcare, Samsung Securities, and LG Electronics, in that order.

Strategies involving new businesses in the rapidly changing market environment pursued

Kakao’s (number eleven) brand value is 2.5489 trillion KRW, which is a record-breaking increase of 55.4% from 2020. Kium Securities’ (number forty) brand value is 5.283 trillion KRW, which is an increase of 30.2% from last year, followed by LG Household and Healthcare (number 14) with an increase of 14.2%, Samsung Securities (number 35) with 11.4%, and LG Electronics (number seven) with 10.7%.

Companies that recorded a high growth rate in brand value were able to spot the changing market situation and new possibilities. Kakao, which recorded a record-breaking increase in brand value opened the age of 4 trillion KRW (4.1567 trillion KRW) by recording the highest sales revenue. The company declared that it would enter the insurance business, thereby carrying out its strategy of reconfiguring the market in the age of remote transactions. Kium Securities also recorded the best sales revenue in 2020 with 4.5197 trillion KRW. The company’s success is attributed to its remote communication strategy, utilizing such channels as Youtube, SNS, and more.  LG Household and Healthcare broke its sales revenue record by achieving sales revenue of 7.8445 billion in 2020, which is an increase of 2.1% from the previous year, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven companies entered the list in 2021: Coupang, Baemin, NH Investment Securities, Hive, GS Construction, Kurly, and Kakao Bank

Coupang showed its power by not only entering the Top 50 list but also landing at the 18th position with the brand value of 1.885 trillion KRW, followed by Baemin (number 37/5.754 trillion KRW), NH Investment Securities (number 39/5.656 trillion KRW), Hive (number 42/5.142 trillion KRW), GS Construction (number 46/3.951 trillion KRW), Kurly (number 47/3.797 trillion KRW), and Kakao Bank (number 50/3.715 trillion KRW).

Among the new entrants, four companies either started out as startups and became unicorns or are expected to grow into unicorns, representing more than half of the new entrants. This implies that those companies that respond quickly to the changing marketplace that is being reconfigured with the focus on remote transactions are able to capture customers and solidify their business positions.

Aggressive investments made by the top five companies

The top five companies in the Best Korea Brand rankings are changing their courses as well.  It was disclosed that the top five companies Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, Kia, Naver, and SK Telecom had invested 1.419 trillion KRW in 187 startup companies.  The companies invested in various future-oriented fields including autonomous driving, fin-tech, bio, and so on.

Hyundai Motor acquired Boston Dynamics, a leading robotics company, last year by paying about 900 billion KRW. Boston Dynamics was valued at around 1.1 billion dollars (about 1.2 trillion KRW).  The acquisition was made in order to respond to global mega-trends including remote transactions and an aging population, as well as fully participating in mobile innovation for humanity. This year, Samsung Electronics acquired a German AI medical startup and America’s Connected Car.  Naver met with about one thousand startups in the first half of last year based on the requirements of “advanced proprietary technology,” “potential synergy with Naver,” and based on three “required” criteria.  Based on these standards, the company selected 14 companies, and invested in these companies. 

The Decade of Possibility holds the secrets to brand growth in 2021

Interbrand has declared the next 10 years as “The Decade of Possibility,” and forecast that companies’ strategies must change accordingly.  Starting in 2020, many phenomenons that were referred to as the “new normal” in all areas, including the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have become normal.  There will be new opportunities and possibilities that have never been experienced before, depending on how we prepare and plan.

In Best Korea Brands 2021, Interbrand proposes seven implications that could be utilized uncover new possibilities in the next 10 years by companies: 

▲ Setting clear goals, purposes, and roadmaps

▲ Redefining competitive landscape

▲Understanding customers’ true wants

▲ Becoming sustainable first mover

▲ Providing customer experience that can enhance psychological satisfaction ▲Strengthening sense of existence in the meta-verse

▲ Showing balanced ethical leadership. 

Interbrand Korea’s CEO Jihoon Moon stated, “Many companies are already redefining their competitive environments and attempting new approaches in order to understand people’s true desires,” and added, “Those companies that define a clear ambition and purpose based on these desires, and that provide innovative customer experiences, will be able to lead the decade of possibility.”


Jihun Moon
Chief Executive Officer
Interbrand Seoul
[email protected]

About Interbrand

Interbrand Group is made up of Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy, and C Space, the global customer agency.

Interbrand have been a world leading brand consultancy, for over 45 years – having pioneers iconic work and forged many of the brand building tools that are commonplace across the industry today.

We know that in an age of unprecedented abundance of choice and speed of innovation, customers’ expectations are moving faster than business. While incremental change is still essential, it is no longer sufficient. It takes bold moves to leap ahead of customers and competitors. We call these moves Iconic Moves.

In collaboration with the world’s leading brands, our global team of thinkers and makers are pioneering the future of brand building. By turning customers into active participants, we help our clients strengthen their brands on an ongoing basis – our approach gives them confidence to make Iconic Moves that spark desire and create utility, driving extraordinary results.

Interbrand is a part of the Omnicom Group (NYSE:OMC)