Franchise Alchemy

The Largest Global Franchise Brands Are U.S. Restaurants

Originally posted on 11/04/2014, content updated on 12/07/2023

Franchising fared respectably in the Fall 2014 rating of the most valuable worldwide brands across all industries. At that time, McDonald’s was rated among the ten most valuable worldwide brands in Interbrand’s 15th annual Best Global Brands report. While the report was top-heavy with technology companies, headed by Apple and Google, franchise brands held their own. And these top franchise brands were all U.S. restaurants. In addition to McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut were among the 100 most valuable global brands. Here are the ratings of these companies and Interbrand’s valuations in 2014:

  • McDonald’s was in the top 10 at number 9, down from number 7 in 2013.  Its brand value was U.S. $42.254 billion, up 1% from 2013.
  • KFC was number 68, down from number 66 in 2013.  Its brand value was U.S. $6.059 billion, down 2% from 2013.
  • Starbucks was number 76, up from number 91 in 2013.  Its brand value was U.S. $5.382 billion, up 22% from 2013.
  • Pizza Hut was number 96, down from number 94 in 2013.  Its brand value was U.S. $4.196 billion, down 2% from 2013.

While all of these were U.S. companies, the Interbrand list included companies based anywhere in the world. Large non-U.S. brands on the list included Samsung (South Korea), Toyota (Japan), BMW (Germany) and others.

McDonald’s was also number 1 on 2014’s Franchise Times Top 200 franchise company list, a position it has held every year since these rankings began in 2000. The Franchise Times ranking is based on worldwide system sales, with McDonald’s sales exceeding $89 billion. McDonald’s, of Oak Brook, Illinois, was also named as the second most expensed food and beverage brand in the third quarter 2014 report by Certify, a company that provides expense management software.

But while business travelers were buying their lunches and dinners at McDonald’s, they bought breakfasts at Starbucks. Starbucks, of Seattle, Washington, was number 1 in the Certify report of expensed food and beverage brands.  It was also the only franchise company on the broader Interbrand list to make a major move, up 22% since the year prior. Starbucks did not appear on the Franchise Times Top 200 list. Apparently shy about being thought of as a franchise company, Starbucks probably did not submit its numbers to Franchise Times. Starbucks does only exemption-based franchising in the U.S., although it franchises openly abroad.

KFC was number 3 on the Franchise Times Top 200 list in 2014, with estimated global sales of $23.250 billion. Number 2 on the Franchise Times list was 7-Eleven, which did not appear at all on the Interbrand list. 7-Eleven’s global sales were $84.475 billion. Pizza Hut was number 9 on the Franchise Times list, with estimated global sales of $12.000 billion.  Pizza Hut and KFC are both owned by Yum! Brands, of Louisville, Kentucky.

Rounding out the top five on the Franchise Times list after McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and KFC were Subway and Burger King, with global sales of $18.800 and $16.301 billion respectively. Subway’s headquarters is in Milford, Connecticut. 7-Eleven’s parent company is based in Tokyo, Japan. Burger King is majority-owned by 3G Capital of Brazil.