Google tops “most valuable brands” list, Microsoft ahead of Apple

March 31st, 2011 | by Raymond Lau

Fortune published its list of the Most Admired companies in the world earlier this month, and BrandFinance just followed suit with its list of the 500 world’s more valuable brands, measured with a different methodology. Surprisingly, this list is rather different from Fortune’s; more technology companies made it into the top ten, and (gasp!) Microsoft is ranked higher than Apple!

To arrive at its results, BrandFinance put factors such as brand’s revenue into the blender of a rather complicated methodology to come up with a rating that is similar to a credit rating issued by banks. Hit up their site for a more comprehensive explanation.

Of the companies that made it to the top ten, seven can be considered tech companies. We’re all familiar with Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. General Electric also manufactures high-tech products from aircraft engines to power generators. Rounding up the seven are two telecommunications companies – Vodafone from the UK and AT&T from the US.

Google jumps to the top spot this year from its second place last year, with its brand valued at US$44.2 billion dollars, 23 per cent higher than last year’s $36 billion. The search giant received a brand rating of AAA+ for going into un-commercial endeavours and its active not-for-profit ventures such as the Google Person Finder. Google’s reputation for innovation is renowned, and continues to grow with the impending launch of Chrome OS.

Microsoft climbed from the 5th spot last year to the 2nd this year, and also received a rating of AAA+. Valued at US$42.8 billion (up from $33.6 billion in 2010), the world’s largest software maker has indeed been making significant changes to its product line-ups. Windows 7, Bing, and Windows Phone 7 have garnered generally positive reviews, and the company is set to preview its next desktop operating system soon.

IBM, the “big blue”, held on to its fourth spot, and continues on strong in its offerings of infrastructure, hosting, and consultancy services. IBM holds more patents than any other US corporation, and is extending its reach into Asia with the construction of its China Analytics Solution Center. BrandFinance valued it at US$36.1 billion.

But the most dramatic improvement comes from Apple, which leaped from the 20th spot last year to the 8th, coming in at an increase of 45 per cent to US$29.5 billion. The company commands almost unwavering loyalty from its fans with a mixture of good products and clever marketing, and single-handedly created an entire class of products with the iPad. It is expected to launch the iPhone 5 later this year.

Other notable brands on the top 100 include Intel (No. 27), Amazon (No.32), Oracle (No.53), Sony (No. 61), and Dell (No. 77). Nokia experienced a freefall from the 21st spot down to the 94th, perhaps signaling that it really is time for the company to change. This latest list, which ranks Microsoft so high up, suggests that they might have made the right decision to work with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7.

A new face on the list is Facebook, which comes in at the 281st spot. The social networking company’s brand is valued at US$3.69 billion and has grown to more than 500 million users since its inception. As a young company, it still has a lot of questions to be answered. Will it go public this year? Will a competiting product from Google successfully challenge its reign? Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see where Facebook is going this year.

Again, we have a bonus for Singapore readers! Singapore Airlines made this list too, and clinched the 274th spot, though down from 225th last year. It received an impressive grade of AAA-, and is valued at US$3.75 billion.

How would you change the list? Let us know in the comments!

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