Purpose – This study compares the associations between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and brand value in the financial services industry in East Asia and the USA. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of 84 major banks in East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) and the USA is used to test the links between CSR and brand value using ANOVA and multiple regressions. Findings – Brand value is positively related to CSR for the entire sample, but is associated with distinctively different CSR factors depending on the geographic markets. In Japan and South Korea brand value is associated with a bank's appreciation for its employees, while in China, brand value is linked to a focus on the community. East Asia's culture is rooted in Confucianism, a philosophy that emphasises caring for the “greater good” (i.e. for the community) and for one's subordinates. In contrast, Americans are more concerned with “green” issues, and subsequently caring for the environment is associated with brand value. In addition, corporate governance, or regulatory compliance, has a strong relationship with brand value for American banks. Research limitations/implications – The study emphasises the complexity of global brand management given that eastern and western companies exhibit distinct patterns regarding brand value. Specifically, our study shows that the links between CSR and brand value vary substantially between different countries and regions. Originality/value – This study investigates the association between CSR and brand value and establishes that different CSR aspects are linked to brand value for banks in East Asia and the USA. The study also establishes that CSR is not a universal concept, given that such distinct brand value-CSR links have been found for the different geographic markets under investigation.