NEW YORK: Apple, the tech giant, continued to be the world's most valuable brand in 2012 despite a turbulent year during which it faced a strong challenge from Samsung, a new report has suggested.

The annual ranking of the world's leading brands from Brand Finance, the consultancy, valued Apple at $87.3bn, a 24% increase on the previous year.

Samsung, the Korean-owned electronics firm, is Apple's leading rival, valued at $58.8bn but growing twice as fast at 54%.

This standout performance was in part down to the launch of the Galaxy S3 phone, the pre-orders for which broke all records.

"With revenues in the tens of billions, Apple and Samsung are slugging it out for global brand supremacy and are vying with each other to create strong 'customer love' for their brands," said David Haigh, Brand Finance's CEO.

The rapid expansion of the market for smartphones and tablets has eclipsed other tech-related brands. Google and Microsoft remain in the top five, but IBM and Amazon have dropped out of this group since 2011.

Google and Microsoft take third and fourth place, with valuations of $52.1bn and $45.5bn respectively. But their growth rates are less stellar than the top two brands.

Google's valuation was 10% up on a year earlier, while that of Microsoft showed a 1% decline.

Another US brand, Walmart, the retailer, rounded out the top five with a valuation of $42.3%, a 10% rise on the previous year.

"There are other brands in the Global 500 that though they may never challenge the brand value giants, are nonetheless extremely powerful and well-loved," added Haigh.

The most prominent of these is Ferrari, the Italian sports car manufacturer, which BrandFinance says achieved the highest brand rating in its study, while being valued at a relatively small $3.6bn.

Brand rating takes into account other financial metrics such as net margins, average revenue per customer, marketing and advertising spend as well as qualitative measures such as brand affection and loyalty.

David Haigh observed that "customer expectations of brands are much higher than ever as trust becomes a critical business issue in a time of increased economic uncertainty".

If brand owners are to meet these expectations, they "must continue to innovate whilst at the same time deliver[ing] quality with value, choice with social responsibility and sustainability with growth," Haigh added.

Data sourced from BrandFinance; additional content by Warc staff