NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, IBM and Microsoft are the world's most valuable brands but Apple and Google are repidly gaining ground, a study from Interbrand has argued.

Coca-Cola, the soft drink, topped the consultancy's annual rankings for the twelfth year in a row, as its net worth climbed by 2% compared with 2010, to $71.9bn overall.

The firm was credited for continuously innovating, as shown by its emphasis on digital media, the freestyle fountain dispenser mixing various drinks on demand, and the creation of the eco-friendly PlantBottle.

"Consumers have embraced this ... but we need to keep working to help them understand what this innovation really is," said Scott Vitters, Coca-Cola's general manager, PlantBottle packaging. "We need to build trust with them, since there have been so many products that haven't delivered on that trust."

IBM, the business services provider, claimed second place on $69.9bn, an 8% increase from 2010, whereas Microsoft, the IT giant, fell 3% to $59.1bn, not least due to its struggles in matching the successes of Google and Apple.

"While other corporate research labs cut back on higher-value, long-term research in exchange for short-term gains, IBM is doing just the opposite," said Kevin Bishop, IBM's vp, brand system and workforce enablement.

Google, the online and mobile group, enjoyed a 27% lift in its valuation,to $55.3bn, while General Electric, the conglomerate, was flat on $42.8bn. McDonald's, the fast food chain, saw a 6% leap, hitting $35.6bn.

Intel, the microchip manufacturer, witnessed a 10% expansion, reaching $35.2bn. Deborah Conrad, Intel's CMO, suggested the uptake of smartphones, tablets, web-enabled TV sets and a raft of similar gadgets was fuelling a change in its strategy.

"The definition of computing has changed, so the relationship that we have now as a brand has to stay relevant," she said. "So the emotional connection and finding a way for people to at least know that Intel is in the mix of making their lives a little bit better."

Apple, the electronics specialist, followed next in the rankings on $33.5bn, a 58% surge year on year, aided by the popularity of devices like the iPhone and iPad, and by a range of more intangible factors.

"It isn't just the fact they make pretty products. They've created an entire lifestyle and way of living," Jez Frampton, Interbrand's CEO, said.

Disney, the media company, was up 1% to $29bn, and has been an early adopter of everything from online video to iPad apps. Matthew Ryan, an SVP at Disney, said: "We don't see technology as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to innovate and deliver new entertainment experiences."

Closing out Interbrand's top ten were HP, accruing an extra 6% to $28.5bn, and Toyota, which recorded exactly the same growth rate and posted $27.8bn.

Data sourced from Interbrand; additional content by Warc staff