Apple with a bite out of it
Google is biting into Apple's luster as the company struggles to retain its brand evangelists. PHOTO: Tracy Lundgren

Google has displaced Apple as the world's most valuable brand to retake a spot it last occupied in 2011.

Amazon, AT&T, Microsoft, Samsung Group, Verizon, Walmart, Facebook and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) also rank among the Top 10 brands on the planet.

That's the word from London-based Brand Finance, an independent branded business valuation consultancy.

Google Up, Apple Down

Google’s brand value rose by 24 percent last year (from $88.2 billion to $109.4 billion) while Apple’s brand value declined nearly 27 percent (from $145.9 billion to $107.1 billion), according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 report.

Brand Finance first evaluates brands to determine their power/strength (based on factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation). Brand strength is used to determine what proportion of a business’s revenue is contributed by the brand, which is projected into perpetuity to determine the brand’s value.

The results of this analysis are ranked, with the world’s 500 most valuable brands featured in the Brand Finance Global 500.

top global brands
PHOTO: Brand Finance

Google did well in this year's analysis, even though analysts noted its brand architecture is "somewhat more complicated than Apple’s" and further acknowledged it is attracting growing scrutiny over personal privacy issues and its "potential monopolistic behavior."

"Google remains largely unchallenged in its core search business, which is the mainstay of its advertising income. Ad revenues were up 20 percent in 2016, despite a fall in cost per click, as ad budgets are increasingly directed online," the report stated.

The Google name is so strong that it drives reputation by association: "Multiple brands have been created or acquired that are merely ‘endorsed’ by the Google brand such as Android and Chrome. There are also brands that merely sit within the Google stable, such as YouTube, which has retained its brand long after acquisition."

Apple Fans 'Losing Faith'

But analysts took a big bite out of Apple's meticulously constructed image.

"Apple was once a paragon of branding excellence," Brand Finance CEO David Haigh noted in the report.

But he warned Apple’s evangelists are beginning to lose their faith, as "snaking queues of early adopters have shrunk almost to the point of invisibility."

They said Apple has failed to maintain its technological advantage while repeatedly disillusioning its advocates with tweaks rather than innovation in the form of material changes. "Put simply, Apple has over-exploited the goodwill of its customers, it has failed to generate significant revenues from newer products such as the Apple Watch and cannot demonstrate that genuinely innovative technologies desired by consumers are in the pipeline," the report noted.

Brand value over time
PHOTO: Brand Finance

Haigh said Brand Finance bridges the gap between the marketing and finance. "We understand the importance of design, advertising and marketing, but we also believe that the ultimate and overriding purpose of brands is to make money," he said.

Based on a recent share price study, Brand Finance’s concludes it pays to invest in companies with strong brands. It found the most highly branded companies have a return almost double that of the average for the S&P 500 as a whole.

20 Tech/IT Services Companies

There are 20 technology/IT services company among the 100 top rated companies in this year's Brand Finance Global 500 report. Interested to know who they are? Take a look.

global tech brands
PHOTO: Brand Finance