As recently as 2014, VW carried a goodwill valuation of $23 billion on its balance sheet. While goodwill is an intangible asset (it represents the difference between a company’s hard assets—cash, plants and equipment, and inventory—and its market value, which is typically assessed when a company is sold), it’s an important one, for it suggests the value of the brand: all the thoughts, beliefs and expectations that come to mind when someone sees the logo or hears the name. Put another way, it’s a measurement of trust.
If VW had no cars, no dealers, no factories, what would its name be worth? That’s goodwill.
From an excellent article by @edwardboches, Professor of advertising at Boston University