Google, Apple enjoy surge in brand value

17 September 2010

NEW YORK: Most of the world's biggest brands have increased in value over the last year, with Google, Apple and JPMorgan leading this trend.

According to consultancy Interbrand, the top 100 global brands are collectively worth $1.21tn (€921bn; £770bn), measured against $1.17tn in 2009 and $1.23tn in 2008.

Coca-Cola retained first position in Interbrand's annual rankings for the eleventh successive year, as its value rose 2%, to $70.5bn.

It was credited with an "ability to adapt to whatever challenges the marketplace throws its way," most recently via initiatives like the World of Coca-Cola Museum, alongside pioneering digital media and CSR platforms.

While the shift towards health and wellness may pose obstacles, Interbrand suggested Coke's Active Health Living scheme is addressing this area, covering education, exercise, the company's product mix and labelling.

IBM, the business services firm, claimed second on $64.7bn, up 7%, having made 108 acquisitions in nine years to facilitate a move away from IT hardware.

Kevin Bishop, vp, brand system and workforce enablement at IBM Worldwide, argued establishing "enduring ideas", "who you serve", their "primary touchpoint" and "what differentiates you" was key.

"Our brand strategy is very simple: it's to be a great company, and therefore a great brand," he added. "So the brand is the reflection of what we do."

Third-placed Microsoft saw a 7% improvement to $60.9bn, despite experiencing its first annual revenue decrease during the recession.

"If every year we ship a better version of a product that people already know and love, that just increases satisfaction and momentum for the brand," said David Webster, Microsoft's chief strategy officer.

"The second thing that we do is create new products and brands in spaces that are rapidly growing."

Google posted a 36% lift to $43.6bn, although privacy issues for Google Buzz and troubles in China show it is struggling to "reconcile its brand promise, 'Don't be evil', with the realities of [being] a powerful global brand."

General Electric registered a 10% decline to $42.8bn, as the transition signified by innovative programmes like ecomagination to healthymagination caused a "loss of focus" and "lack of direction."

McDonald's and Intel both enjoyed 4% gains, to $33.5bn and $32bn respectively, followed by Nokia, down 15% to $29.4bn, while Disney delivered a 1% uptick to $28.7bn, and HP surged 12% to $26.9bn.

"A brand is made over decades, if not years, and multiple years," said Michael Mendenhall, chief marketing officer at HP.

"The work we've been doing at HP, certainly over the last three to five years is paying out now in dividends relative to brand strength [and] brand value for the company."

Elsewhere, Apple jumped 37% to $21.1bn, BlackBerry leapt 32% to $6.8bn, and JPMorgan climbed 29% to $12.3bn.

"I think we were able to be in a position of strength - to be a strong port in the storm coming out of the financial crisis," said Kristin Lemkau, JPMorgan's global head, marketing and communications.

"At a time where other banks were not able to provide capital to their clients, we could."

Harley-Davidson recorded a 24% drop to $3.3bn, Toyota was off 16% t $26.1bn, a total standing at 15% for Nokia, on $39.5bn.

Energy giant BP also "sunk without trace" from the list after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and Graham Hales, ceo, Interbrand London, predicted a major identity transformation is essential.

"Turning the tide of public opinion will not be easy," he said." [BP will have to] rethink] its 'Beyond Petroleum promise - a tagline that has proven impossible to hold true to."

Data sourced from Interbrand/PBS; additional content by Warc staff