NEW YORK: The 500 biggest global brands defied the adverse economic conditions last year, growing in value by 26% overall, according to a new analysis produced by Brand Finance.

The consultancy's figures suggest that the world's top 500 brands are now worth a collective total of $2.87 trillion (€2.11tr; £1.84tr).

Wal-Mart retained first place in the rankings from the previous year, with the retailer's net value improving by 2% on an annual basis, to reach $41.37bn.

Google, on $36.19bn, climbed from number five to number two, with Coca-Cola in third, on $34.84bn, easily beating rival soft drinks specialist Pepsi, which came 30th, on $15.99bn.

Tech stalwarts IBM and Microsoft rounded out the top five, with the two brands swapping places from their 2009 positions, while Apple also rose from 27th to 19th.

The only non-American brands in the top ten were London-listed Vodafone, the mobile giant, HSBC, the global bank, and Toyota, the Japanese automaker, in seventh, eighth and tenth places respectively.

Elsewhere, Santander, the Spanish banking group, was the fastest-growing brand, with its value leaping 136%, to $25.58bn, as it moved from 41st on the list in 2009 to 12th this year.

Brand Finance calculates its annual top 500 by rating listed companies' brands on the basis of their strength, risk and future potential.

By sector, airlines were found to have borne the brunt of the recent global economic crisis, with brand value diminishing as consumers cut their discretionary spending and took fewer flights.

Just one of 2010's top five assets in this category, Singapore Airlines, enjoyed a higher position when compared to last year.

Retailers also saw diminished values due to widespread consumer cutbacks, with McDonalds, falling from 12th to 17th place on the rankings.

Tesco, the UK-owned supermarket chain, enjoyed a 26% increase in brand value, rising to 16th on the list and $20.65bn, aided by its international expansion strategy.

The banking sector saw the largest increase in brand value, with government bailout schemes strengthening financial firms' balance sheets following the fallout from the repeated collapses observed in 2008.

Telecoms and food firms experienced the second and third-strongest growth.

David Haigh, ceo, Brand Finance, commented: "During the recession value-for-money brands have done well including Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Tesco to name a few."

New entrants to the top 500 include BlackBerry, owned by Canadian tech firm RIM, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi and French high-fashion brand Christian Dior.

"Many luxury brands have slipped but a small number of iconic luxury brands have done remarkably well," Haigh added.

Data sourced from Brand Finance; additional content by Warc staff