Technology is still on top in Millward Brown Optimor's annual BrandZ report of the Top 100 Most Valuable Brands, with the top three brands in the world hailing from that category.
Now in its eighth year, the report ranks brands based on sales performance, predicted future earnings and consumer research.
Despite a somewhat lackluster year, Apple is once again the No. 1 brand in the world for the third time in a row, but Google and Samsung are closing in on the tech leader. Google narrowly ousted IBM for the No. 2 position, and Apple rival Samsung moved up 25 spots with a growth of 51 percent driven by its Galaxy phone, making it the No. 6 top riser of the year.
"Despite a more competitive marketplace and other challengers nipping at its heels, Apple's ability to maintain its No. 1 position demonstrates the value that having a strong brand brings to business," said Nick Cooper, managing director, Millward Brown Optimor. "People still love the brand, regardless of its stock price."
|Top 15 Most Valuable Brands|
But despite a strong showing by some tech brands, the category as a whole was one of only two that saw a decline in brand value this year (the other was oil and gas). Without the consistently strong performance of Apple and Facebook, the technology category actually declined 1 percent as companies trended toward iteration rather than innovation in response to tough economic times.
The overall outlook is rosy though, with the 11 other categories included in the report gaining ground, as opposed to last year where total growth was less than 1 percent overall. The consumer goods category–which includes apparel, retail, personal care, cars and luxury–saw the strongest brand value appreciation as confidence and spending increased.
Apparel grew 21 percent on top of a rise of 13 percent a year ago, and retail showed a strong turnaround, rising 17 percent after posting a 5 percent decline last year.
In other retail news, Amazon surpassed Walmart to become the No. 1 most valuable brand in that category and the 14th overall.
Also of note is Disney's huge brand value increase in the last year. The only entertainment brand to appear on the list, Disney is up 40 percent and rose 17 spots in the ranking to No. 26, likely due in large part to its acquisition of Lucasfilm.
|Top 100 Brands by Region|
With technology enabling brands to reach consumers anywhere in the world, location is no longer a barrier, and that is evidenced in the presence of brands from fast-growing markets like the BRIC countries, Australia and Africa.
In fact, three of the newcomers to the Top 100–the banks ANZ and Westpac, and the supermarket Woolworths–are Australian brands, indicating the economic strength of that country, which is aided by its proximity to fast-growing Asian markets.
China took an increasingly large share of that Asian market, reflecting the government's drive to develop a consumer society; and while Latin American brands saw a decline, due in part to a struggling Brazilian economy, growth is expected to intensify as the region hosts two global events in the next three years–the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
If the BrandZ report shows anything, it's that there is more to a brand than its bottom line. Indeed, in the eight years the report has been in existence the BrandZ Top 100 have outperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 28 percent.
Reputation has never been more important, with companies like Apple able to stay on top in spite of sinking stock prices because of the meaningful difference the brand makes in its costumers lives.