NEW YORK: Apple, IBM and Google have topped the list of the world's most valuable brands, but the tough financial climate has put pressure on many of their rivals, according to a study by Millward Brown.

Apple, the electronics pioneer, headed the BrandZ charts on $183bn, a 19% improvement year on year. IBM, the services firm, climbed one place to second after a 15% gain priced its trademark at $116bn.

Google, the online giant, slipped to third and was down by 3% to $108bn. McDonald's, in fourth, saw a 17% jump to $95.2bn. Microsoft, the IT group, was off by 2% to $76.6bn, although it still took fifth.

Collectively, the combined net worth of the 100 top intangible assets rose by 0.4%, reaching $2.4tr. This trailed the 17% expansion registered in last year's analysis, and of 4% two years ago.

"Brand value grew overall, but only marginally," Millward Brown argued, "because of myriad economic and political issues that eroded consumer confidence in the developed economies and because the BRICs slowed somewhat."

By category, luxury saw a 15% increase, as did fast food. Apparel witnessed a 13% lift, oil and gas grew 8% and technology was up 2%. Insurance, however, was down 16%, while automakers and telecoms providers both endured a 7% slide.

More specifically, technology and telecoms brands were responsible for approximately 44% of the top 100's net worth. This total has improved from around a third in 2006.

Taking a longer term view, the hundred most valuable brands grew in value by 66% from 2006 to 2012. During this period, the assets in the BrandZ portfolio outperformed the S&P 500, the index of major listed companies, by 103%, the study added.

Among the players enjoying the fastest growth was Facebook, the social network, leaping 74% to $33.2bn and claiming nineteenth spot. Hermès, the luxury label, also posted a 61% gain, to $19.2bn, and was just outside the top 30.

Coca-Cola, the soft drink, Moët & Chandon, the alcoholic beverage, and Pampers diapers all had a maximum five points for "brand contribution", meaning their name and emotional bond with shoppers yielded differentiation and drove sales.

Brands based in emerging markets now make up 20% of the top 100. China Mobile, the number one mobile telecoms group in China, was the biggest, at $47bn, but logged an 18% decline, as it tries to adapt to the smartphone age.

More broadly, 13 assets from China made the rankings. This figure fell to two for India, in the form of ICICI bank on $12.7bn and Airtel, the mobile operator, on $11.5bn. MTN, its South Africa counterpart, was also a new entry, on $11.5bn.

Data sourced from BrandZ; additional content by Warc staff