Call it the battle of the bank brands.
A new report ranking the world's most valuable brand names among banks has named HSBC as the holder of the top spot on a list of 500 bank brands.
The only British bank among the list's top 10, HSBC leapfrogged Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which ranked first and second, respectively, last year. That's according to Brand Finance, a London-based brand valuation consultancy, which compiled the list.
The HSBC brand "stood out" as the only European bank brand among the top 10, the company said in a statement. As a group, European bank brands "performed miserably," making up 16 of the 20 banks that dropped to a lower rank compared with the prior year.
Four Chinese banks -- China Construction Bank, ICBC, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China -- were among the list's top 20. Banks in Brazil, Russia and India also claimed high-up spots. Together, banks from those four countries outnumbered European banks among the top 20 banking brands, Brand Finance said.
U.S. banks continued to fare well with Wells Fargo holding firm in second position, and Chase, Citi Group and American Express capturing the fifth, sixth and seventh places, respectively, this year. Bank of America dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 on the list.
Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said in a statement that last year was "a very turbulent period" for bank brands, and this year could be important as well.
"2012 is set to be a landmark year politically with the U.S. election in November and polls in Germany and France, too. In this context, the eyes of the world will be examining the brand value of financial institutions as an indicator of broader financial health of their respective nations," Haigh said.
The Brand Finance Banking 500 report is published annually. Each brand is rated on the basis of a benchmarking study of the brand's strength, risk and future potential relative to its competitors and a summary measure of the brand's financial strength.