NEW YORK: Coca-Cola remains the world's most valuable brand, but it is facing an increasingly strong challenge from Apple in this area, a study by Interbrand, the consultancy, has argued.

As was the case in 2011, Coca-Cola, the soft drink, held the top spot in Interbrand's annual ranking of global brands. It posted an 8% uptick in value to $77.8bn, and was praised for combining a huge reach with innovative marketing and engaging shoppers.

Apple, the electronics pioneer, enjoyed the biggest such increase, of 129%, among the top 100 brands. This surge from $33.5bn to $76.6bn was fuelled by the success of lines like the iPhone and iPad, and the clear "set of values" and "human touch" defining its activity.

IBM, the technology group, fell from second to third despite logging an 8% expansion to $75.5bn. Google, the online giant, took fourth, up by 26% to $69.7bn, not least due to its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, aiding a push into the devices market.

Microsoft, the IT specialist, actually witnessed a 2% decline in its net worth, as pressure rises from competitors such as Apple and Google, and gadgets like tablets undermine the PC sector.

Jez Frampton, Interbrand's global chief executive officer, said: "As global competition increases and many competitive advantages, like technology, become more short-lived, a brand's contribution to shareholder value will only increase."

Elsewhere in the top ten, GE, the conglomerate, was up by 2% to $43.3bn, and McDonald's, the fast-food chain, improved by 13% to $40.1bn. Intel, the chip manufacturer, recorded a 12% leap to $39.4bn.

Samsung, the electronics firm, also saw a 40% gain to $32.9bn, while Toyota, the carmaker, logged a 9% lift to $30.3bn. They were two of the ten brands from Asia Pacific to make the top 100, compared with 56 from the Americas and 34 from Europe and Africa.

The new entrants to the charts this year included Pampers, Procter & Gamble's diaper range, in 34th position, Facebook, the social network, in 69th, and Ralph Lauren, the luxury brand, in 91st.

UBS, Zurich and Barclays, all from the financial sector, dropped out of the rankings, as did HTC, the technology firm, Nivea, Beiersdorf's skincare brand, and Armani, the luxury label.

By category, there were 13 auto marques among the leading 100 brands, alongside 12 financial services operators, 11 players in the FMCG industry, nine technology manufacturers and eight luxury assets.

Interbrand's methodology was based on each brand's sales performance, its influence on consumer choice and its strength in driving earnings or a price premium. Only brands with a sufficient amount of publicly available financial data were included.

Data sourced from Interbrand; additional content by Warc staff