Berkshire, Union Pacific boost Nebraska's 'brand value'

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Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 12:00 am

Boosted by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. holdings, Nebraska ranked 20th among the states in the value of brands owned by its companies, according to a new study.

Brand Finance, a consulting company, totaled the value of Nebraska-owned brands at $25.1 billion, led by Union Pacific Corp.'s $6.3 billion. That's more than several states with larger populations, including Colorado ($21.1 billion), Wisconsin ($19.9 billion), Maryland ($15.4 billion), Indiana ($9.6 billion) and Arizona ($8 billion).

Iowa's only billion-dollar-plus brand was Casey's General Stores, at $1.7 billion.

Cabela's, the outdoor retailer based in Nebraska, has a brand value of $1.2 billion, the study estimated.

Berkshire's brands were McLane, $5.8 billion; Berkshire itself, $4.1 billion; Geico, $3.6 billion; MidAmerican Energy, $1.5 billion; General Reinsurance, $1.4 billion; and Shaw Industries, $1.1 billion.

The 519 U.S. brands that are worth $1 billion or more carry a total value of $2.5 trillion. The biggest is Apple, at $105 billion. California has 61 brands totaling $484 billion. New York has 75 totaling $422 billion. Twelve states don't have brands in the billion-dollar range.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, noted that Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire, talks about the value of brands. He has invested heavily in branded businesses including IBM, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola and Heinz.

“The stronger the brand, the more resilient a company is to adverse market conditions, and the more likely that the company is able to sustain its business through thick and thin,” said Edgar Baum, managing director for Brand Finance.

Brand Finance said it calculated the values by determining the royalties a corporation would have to pay to license its brand if it didn't own it. The calculation includes an estimate of the strength, risk and potential of the brand in relation to its competitors.

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