Google Beats Apple in List of World’s Most Valuable Brands

Brand value highlights tech sector growth

Google, Apple, IBM and Microsoft are the companies that rank the highest in terms of brand value, according to a new study commissioned by WPP and conducted by Millward Brown. McDonald’s is the only non-tech brand within the top five, highlighting the growth of the digital vertical in recent years and more trust among consumers.

After three years of owning the top spot in the “The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands” study, Apple has slipped to the No. 2 spot behind Google. The manufacturer's brand value fell 20 percent year-over-year to $148 billion, due in large part to the company’s well-publicized recent lack of innovation. Google, on the other hand, has kept throwing money into a number of different initiatives including mapping, wearables, payments and social media to up its brand value 40 percent, representing $159 billion.

"I think the world is looking at Apple as a brand that created an Earth-shattering revolution, and I think that has slowed down a bit,” said Oscar Yuan, vice president at Millward Brown Optimor. “The fact that [Google] doesn’t see themselves contained in one sector is really a testament to their boldness and willingness to try new things.”

The report looks at the top 100 brands across the food and beverage, technology, automotive, retail, beverage, financial services and luxury verticals.

IBM grabbed the third spot in the BrandZ’s study for the second year in a row with a brand value of $108 billion. Meanwhile, Microsoft clocked in at No. 4, up significantly from its seventh place positioning last year.

Other tech giants on the list include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook’s value shot up 68 percent year over year to reach $35.7 billion, while both LinkedIn and Twitter entered the ranking of top 100 brands for the first time this year.

Twitter generated a brand value of $14 billion, claiming the No. 71 spot, while LinkedIn grabbed the 78th spot at $12 billion.

Despite the fact that tech brands appear to be climbing up the scale in terms of brand value, 71 percent of the brands in the report have kept their place on the list since 2008, indicating that strong messaging from long-standing brands still resonates well with consumers.

The study also breaks out some interesting industry-specific findings, particularly in the retail and automotive spaces.

Amazon continues to lead the retail vertical, upping its brand value by 41 percent—equivalent to $64 billion—in the past year.

Walmart’s value dipped two percent year-over-year, but the mass merchant kept its claim on the No. 2 spot. However, the company’s value is significantly less than Amazon at $35 billion. Luxury brand Louis Vuitton falls shortly behind Walmart with a value of $25 billion, representing a 14 percent yearly increase.

Nike inched out Zara as the top brand within the apparel sector to increase its brand value 55 percent this year, bringing its brand value to $24.6 billion. Similar to Google’s efforts, the reason for the shoe brand’s growth is attributed to its appeal outside of athletic gear — specifically with its Nike FuelBand, per Yuan. BrandZ’s report comes on the heels of another recent report from iModerate that found although awareness of Nike’s FuelBand was highest in terms of other health wrist gadgets, the devices are still largely unrecognized by consumers.

Within the automotive sector, Toyota was the top automaker with a total brand value of $11.8 billion. However, Ford may soon give Toyota a run for its money, since the automaker is the fastest-growing car brand with a 56 percent increase in brand value the past year, thanks in large part to its investments in elevating the in-car experience with connected cars and its in-dashboard technology.

“The big story in auto is Ford’s quick rise to the top,” explained Yuan. “In a bid to win over millennials, Ford is pushing hard on the technology.”