LONDON: An inspired piece of branded content has helped toymaker Lego displace luxury automaker Ferrari as the world's most powerful brand according to a new study.

The annual Brand Finance rankings of the most powerful and most valuable brands in the world saw Lego leap to the top of the former list – which measures a brand's ability to impact a company's performance by looking at marketing investment and the goodwill the brand has built up with customers and staff – while tech firm Apple retained the number one spot on the latter.

Lego's rise had been a surprise, admitted Robert Haigh, branding expert at Brand Finance. "A lot of that has been down to the success of The Lego Movie," he explained, adding that the brand also had an underlying strength in that it appealed to both sexes and all ages.

"Kids have an affection for playing with it and parents see it with a sense of nostalgia," he told the Telegraph.

Ferrari's decline from first to ninth in the power ranking was attributed to two factors – a lack of success in Formula One and a perceived lack of exclusivity as the manufacturer ended a cap on the number of cars it produces each year.

Energy drink Red Bull was in third place and FMCG business Unilever in fifth, with two consulting firms – PwC and McKinsey – completing the top five most powerful brands.

Apple's "remarkable knack for using its brand to popularise and hence monetise existing technology" ensured it remained by far the world's most valuable brand, based on financial performance, investment in its brand and royalties that would be achieved from licensing it.

Worth an estimated $128.3bn, it was far ahead of the second and third placed brands, consumer electronics business Samsung ($81.7bn) and internet firm Google ($76.7bn).

Tech businesses Microsoft ($67.1bn) and Verizon ($59.8bn) rounded out the top five most valuable.

Microblogging site Twitter was the fastest growing brand, almost tripling its brand value to $4.4bn.

Brand Finance noted that Twitter, along with fellow tech giants Baidu (+161%) and Facebook (+146%), appeared to be more effectively managing the transition to mobile advertising than other tech players such as Google.

Among non-tech brands, restaurant chain Chipotle was singled out for mention as its brand value was up 124% and eating into the market share of McDonald's, which in turn saw $4bn knocked off its brand value.

Data sourced from Brand Finance, Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff