NEW YORK: Apple, the consumer electronics giant, has overtaken Google to become the most valuable brand in the world, according to a new study.

Millward Brown Optimor has released its latest annual BrandZ report covering the intangible assets boasting the greatest financial strength, drawing on information from sources such as Bloomberg and Datamonitor.

Apple, manufacturer of the iPad and iPhone, claimed top spot, logging an 84% improvement year on year, and reaching $153bn.

The company, which also offers more than 400,000 apps and has pressed ahead with web-connected TV and mobile ads, benefits from its consistency across devices, chief operating officer Tim Cook argued.

"I think the user appreciates that Apple can take full responsibility for their experience, whereas the fragmented approach turns the customer into a systems integrator and few customers that I know want to be a systems integrator," he said last month.

Online expert Google occupied second having endured a 2% slide in value, meaning the owner of YouTube and Orkut lost its hold on first position after a four year reign.

Business services group IBM lodged a 17% uptick during the same period, securing $100.8bn, while fast-food chain McDonald's was up 23%, attaining $81bn.

The latter firm has prioritised enhancing its menu, upgrading restaurants, alongside emphasising increased convenience and value, part of what it calls a "Plan to Win."

"The economic climate is still less than ideal, from a slow and uneven recovery to significantly rising commodity costs and fragile consumer confidence," Jim Skinner, chief executive of McDonald's, said.

"But we continue to succeed by staying true to our proven plans and listening to consumers. We're elevating our business to meet their needs in a holistic way."

Microsoft followed in the BrandZ list, on $78.2bn, surpassing Coca-Cola's $73.7bn, AT&T's $69.9bn and Marlboro's $67.5bn.

The study suggested the resilience of IBM, McDonald's, Coke and General Electric - in tenth on $50.3bn - pointed to the durability of these "legacy brands", which have been trading for over 50 years.

"Leadership, strategy and tactics aside, what all of these companies have in common is their use of brand to remain relevant to consumers and drive global business success," the report said.

China Mobile was the other member of the top ten, enjoying a 9% lift, hitting $57.3bn, and one of 19 operators based in emerging nations, compared with only two in 2006.

Further representatives from China included financial titans ICBC, on $44.4bn, and the China Construction Bank, with $25.5bn, while web specialist Baidu was a new entry, generating $22.6bn.

All 13 product categories analysed by Millward Brown witnessed an appreciation in value, incorporating a 22% rise for quick-service chains and 19% increase regarding luxury goods.

The technology sector, comprising one third of the 100 premier players, yielded an 18% expansion measured against 2010.

Social network Facebook - making its debut - was a major factor supporting this trend, posting a 246% surge, on $19.1bn.

Elsewhere, ecommerce pioneer Amazon delivered a 37% jump, achieving $37.6bn, and therefore leapfrogged Wal-Mart, down 5% on $37.3bn, as the most valuable retailer.

The fact marketers like Burberry, Chanel, Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton all leveraged tools such as social media and apps also demonstrated that "tech and convergence create brand interdependencies," the study said.

In formulating the rankings, Millward Brown Optimor combined estimates of a brand's financial worth with any expected short-term growth in value, or "momentum", and the contribution each asset made to the earnings of its parent.

Data sourced from BrandZ; additional content by Warc staff