Apple has retained its position as the world’s most valuable brand, according to brand management firm Interbrand’s annual rankings.
Apple usurped Coca-Cola from the top spot, which had held the position for 13 years, in last year’s list. This year Apple has increased its brand value by 21% to $US118.9 billion.
Tech brands dominated the rankings, with 13 entrants. Google once again was the second most valuable in the world, increasing its brand value by 15% to $US107.4 billion. Elsewhere in Interbrand’s top 100, Facebook and Amazon were among the top risers.
To conduct its annual study, Interbrand measures companies’ financial performance, the role that brand plays in influencing customer choice and the strength the brand has to command a premium price or secure earnings for the company.
Brand value: $US21.7bn
Last year’s rank: 20
Change in value: +17%
Honda has been plagued by recalls in 2014 but its announcement that it was returning to Formula 1 as an engine supplier for McLaren, after a break of more than 20 years, is helping the brand grow and more clearly differentiate itself from competitors.
Honda has also been partnering with with tech companies like Google and Apple to work on programs like telematics and driverless cars — although Interbrand says this is far from unique in the category.
19. Louis Vuitton
Brand value: $US22.5bn
Last year’s rank: 17
Change in value: -9%
Interbrand says Louis Vuitton is affected by fluctuating exchange rates in the global economy and the impact of political and economic climates on key customers, such as Russian and Chinese travellers.
Louis Vuitton must push its core strengths in “extraordinary design, technical innovation, style and authenticity” if it is to retain strong brand loyalty with global consumers, Interbrand says. That might be achieved during the fall season with the launch new collection of Marc Jacobs’ successor, Nicolas Guesquière, hitting stores for the first time.
Brand value: $US22.8bn
Last year’s rank: 16
Change in value: -9%
Gillette is maintaining its lead by staying true to its “The Best a Man Can Get” brand promise, offering a broad range of products. While sales growth is slowing as more men adopt facial hair, Gillette is responding with the introduction of new products like the Gillette Body razor and the Gillette Fusion ProGlide which uses the brand’s proprietary “Flexball” technology.
But the brand remains under threat from cheaper alternatives such as the Dollar Shave Club, 800Razors.com and general disposable razors.
Brand value: $US23.8bn
Last year’s rank: 15
Change in value: -8%
HP hit the headlines this month when it announced it would be splitting into two companies, one devoted to business technology and the other concentrating on personal computing. Interbrand says the year ahead for HP will be a “pivotal one”.
In recent months the company placed strategic bets on mobility, security, big data and cloud technologies which have led to new product launches like the Slate VoiceTab phablet range for India, plans to invest in 3D printing and the launch of a new converged infrastructure platform.
Brand value: $US25.9bn
Last year’s rank: 18
Change in value: +8%
Oracle is a complex business, having spent 10 years acquiring more than 100 companies to build its back office solutions suite. Its challenge now is to define the Oracle brand as a whole, not just a sum of these complex parts.
Oracle’s marketing of late has all been around “simplicity” as it looks to increase understanding about its business. Interbrand says with more effective storytelling about how the business is evolving and where it is headed, Oracle can transition smoothly into the next stage of its development.
Brand value: $US29.5bn
Last year’s rank: 19
Change in value: 25%
Amazon was the “top riser” in Interbrand’s list this year. In 2013 the company expanded from its core retail roots by entering into a content licensing agreement with HBO, growing its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service and launching its Fire TV service for users to access Netflix, Prime Instant Video and Hulu all in one place.
Looking ahead Interbrand says Amazon’s brand value may lift even higher if it gains approval from the Federal Aviation Authority to launch its Amazon Prime Air delivery service and as it continues to invest in customer personalisation.
Brand value: $US30.9bn
Last year’s rank: 13
Change in value: 6%
Last year Cisco launched its “Internet of Everything” marketing campaign, which is still running today, telling the story of how the company is connecting the previously unconnected — a move that is expanding its presence in the global marketplace.
Interbrand says Cisco is now in a thought leadership position in terms of how technology is transforming the world. Aside from marketing, Cisco is also improving the value of its brand by increasing its speed to market from 3 to 5 years to 12-18 months.
Brand value: $US32.2bn
Last year’s rank: 14
Change in value: 14%
The box office super hit that was Frozen helped revitalize Disney as a global powerhouse last year. Also key to Disney’s brand strength is its use of technology and data to understand what customers want and personalise their experiences.
Big news such as its partnership with Marvel to create programming for Netflix, the launch of the Disney Infinity gaming platform and Disney’s acquisition of YouTube network Maker studios were all announced in recent months. Interbrand says that by continuing to grow its reputation for top family entertainment and increasing its focus on next generation media and technology, Disney is ready to “thrive.”
Brand value: $US34.2bn
Last year’s rank: 9
Change in value: -8%
Intel is facing an uphill challenge as global PC sales are experiencing a 4.4% year-on-year decline. In response, Intel is moving into new markets including cloud computing, the “internet of things” and wearables, demonstrated by its partnership with fashion designers Opening Ceremony to create a smart bracelet.
These are all moves in the right direction but Intel, the brand built around power and performance, is finding it hard to differentiate itself — particularly as the tablet and smartphone markets are dominated by competitors ARM and Qualcomm.
Interbrand advises Intel to reignite growth through innovation, revitalize its identity and generate awareness through marketing to build upon its heritage as a brand that transforms life through technology.
Brand value: $US34.2bn
Last year’s rank: 12
Change in value: +7%
BMW has managed to increase its relevance with models like the i3 emission-free car for driving around cities and the i8 progressive sports car and its “Born Electric” marketing campaign. The push has brought BMW’s mobility ideals to life, proving the brand is “Fuelled by Innovation,” Interbrand says.
Over the past few years BMW has refined its brand strategy, internal communications clarity and external brand consistency to build the value of its brand. Record sales in China and an “enviable” profit margin per vehicle have also been credit for BMW’s success last year.
Brand value: $US34.3bn
Last year’s rank: 11
Change in value: +8%
German automaker Mercedes-Benz reported a record 14% increase in sales last year, having revitalized itself with new models and “fresh expressions of its brand” which includes making contributions to clean mobility.
Interbrand says Mercedes-Benz owes much of its recent success to continual innovation and its commitment to debuting new products and services.
Its researchers say the brand has also raised the bar when it comes to delivering premium customer experiences with its “Mercedes me” initiative, which bundles benefits and services like “Move me,” “Connect me,” and “Assist me” on one digital platform.
Brand value: $US42.3bn
Last year’s rank: 7
Change in value: +1%
McDonald’s global sales have been under pressure but the brand is working hard to respond to consumer demand for healthier meals and expand its operations globally.
High profile sponsorships of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2014 Winter Olympics and major advertising campaigns have helped McDonald’s maintain awareness and promote new launches, such as its revamp of its fries packaging which allowed customers to play an augmented reality soccer game.
The brand is now on a journey to rebrand itself as “not online a cheap food destination, but an appealing and high-quality one as well.”
Brand value: $US45.4bn
Last year’s rank 10
Change in value: +20%
Toyota is the most valuable automotive brand on this year’s ranking, despite a huge vehicle recall and being fined $US1.2bn by the US Justice Department in March.
The company has evolved its marketing with campaigns like “Let’s go places” and “Go Fun Yourself” to add a more playful dimension to it communications. Elsewhere, Toyota has also made efforts to increase diversity within the company and collaborated with brands such as BMW on projects such as electric drivetrains and fuel cell engineering.
By prioritizing collaboration, investing in mobility and putting sustainability and innovation at the top of its agenda, Toyota is well positioned for the future, Interbrand says.
Brand value: $US45.5bn
Last year’s rank: 8
Change in value: 15%
Samsung continues to lead the competitive global smartphone market in terms of volume and doubled its presence in tablets last year. The company has also made sustained investments in R&D to bring out technologies such as curbed TVs and a virtual reality headset.
In 2013 Samsung tripled its marketing spend to $US14bn — the equivalent of Iceland’s GDP and more than triple Microsoft and Apple’s combined marketing spend last year — to drive perceptions of the company as an aspirational brand.
6. General Electric
Brand value: $US45.5bn
Last year’s rank: 6
Change in value: -3%
General Electric is in the process of reinventing itself by harnessing big data to make its heavy industrial machines smarter.
Over the past 12 months GE has divested its retail finance division and it was announced that Electrolux would buy GE’s appliance business for $US3.3bn, indicating how the company is transitioning away from consumer businesses and focusing more intently on industrials. But despite the shift, GE’s marketing and relationships with customers remains very personal, having produced ads such as “What Would Happen” and “Childlike Imagination,”
Interbrand says initiatives such as its Garages global road show which showcases innovations in manufacturing demonstrate how “GE is not just imagining what’s next, but is actually doing it.”
Brand value: $US61.2bn
Last year’s rank: 5
Change in brand value: +3%
The past 12 months have been transformational for Microsoft, with new CEO Satya Nadella now firmly in place and leading the company’s move towards a new “cloud and mobile first” era.
To demonstrate this new vision, Microsoft has completed its purchase of Nokia’s devices and services division, released the Cortana personal voice assistant, acquired the parent company of Minecraft and rebranded its cloud computing enterprise Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure and made it compete on price with Amazon Web services.
Brand value: $US72.2bn
Last year’s rank: 4
Change in brand value: -8%
IBM is in the process of shifting from its five-year old “Smarter Planet” strategy to a stronger focus on big data, cloud computing and analytics, following year on year declines in both revenue and profit.
The challenge is differentiation: all its competitors are also focused on all the same areas. IBM will be hoping its b2b computing partnership with Apple, announced in July, will enrich its analytics offering with the input of billions of data points from iOS devices.
The company has made multi-million dollar investments in acquisitions, net capital expenditures and R&D, earning it the most US patents for the 21st straight year in 2013. In early 2014 IBM formed the IBM Watson Group which aims to work out how to make decisions based on all the data that exists in the world as it looks to set itself apart from the rest of its competitors as the leader in the big data space.
Brand value: $US81.6bn
Last year’s rank: 3
Change in brand value: +3%
Coca-Cola has seen declining sales growth in North America, its biggest market, as demand for its products wanes among increasingly health conscious consumers.
To help combat this, the company has been rolling out mid-calorie “green” cola Coca-Cola Life. Elsewhere it has also partnered with brands including Nike, P&G, Ford and Heinz to accelerate the development of products made from plants as it looks to respond to concerns around sustainability.
Interbrand says Coca-Cola’s opportunity ahead lies in continuing to strengthen the brand’s connections with Millennials and addressing the shift away from sweet, carbonated beverages to high energy and health-conscious ones, especially in North America and Western Europe.
Brand value: $US107.4bn
Last year’s rank: 2
Change in brand value: +15%
Google continued its quest this year to be leaders in far more than search alone. Recent ambitious projects — known internally as “moon shots” — include self driving cars, the roll out of Google Glass, Project Loon (its global network of high altitude balloons that provide internet access to people in remote areas) and an investment in a biotech company that is working to slow human ageing.
Interbrand says that with its extensive reach in search, advertising, Android, apps and Google+, Google has the capabilities and resources to continue to deliver on its vision to provide more personalised experiences.
Brand value: $US118.9bn
Last year’s rank: 1
Change in brand value: 21%
Apple maintained its position at the head of the rankings by continuing to be bold, Interbrand says. Recent examples of boldness have included the launch of Apple Pay, the long-anticipated Apple Watch, two new iPhones and software such as CarPlay and HomeKit.
Intebrand says the real breakthrough, though, is how the products now work together to make everything in your life work that bit better.
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