Apple takes back 'most valuable brand' title from Google

Apple earned its spot as the world's most valuable brand after losing the title to Google last year, according to the BrandZ Global Top 100 Most Valuable Brands annual ranking. Since BrandZ's first report in 2006, more and more technology brands have joined the top 100. 

Andy Wong/AP/File
A man walks into an Apple store in Beijing. Apple has reclaimed its title as the most valuable brand in the world, according to a new report from BrandZ.

Move over, Google. Apple is reclaiming its throne as the world's most valuable brand.

Apple secured the No. 1 spot for 2015, according to the BrandZ Global Top 100 Most Valuable Brands ranking by global research market firm Millward Brown, released annually. The technology company's brand value increased by 67 percent from $147.8 billion to $246.9 billion. Apple dropped to No. 2 last year, when Google claimed the title with its value of $158 billion. 

Microsoft, IBM, and Visa rounded out the top five. Seven companies made their debuts on this year's report; Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba had the highest ranking for a newcomer, starting off at No. 13. Retailer Costco and Japanese telecoms provider SoftBank also joined the top 100 this year.

The methodology for BrandZ's tenth annual ranking has several components to evaluate brand value. First, BrandZ evaluates each brand's earnings. When a company owns multiple brands, then BrandZ has to analyze financial information from company's annual reports and other sources, such as Kantar Retail, to figure out how much money a specific brand actually brings in. The firm also assesses a brand's potential earnings in the future, using data from Bloomberg. 

Second, BrandZ conducts consumer research online and in face-to-face interviews to evaluate both quantitative factors, such as price and availability, and intangible influences like how unique the brand is or what emotions the brand evokes in its customers. More than 3 million consumers and more than 100,000 different brands in over 50 markets are part of BrandZ's research for the list. 

Facebook nearly doubled its value in 2015, making it BrandZ's largest "riser." The social media company's brand value increased 99 percent in one year, because it has stayed relevant through acquisitions and has monetized its audience of over one billion people worldwide, according to the report. Since debuting on the list in 2011, Facebook's Brand Value has increase by 272 percent. Apple's 67-percent-rise and Intel's 58-percent-jump were the second- and third-largest 'risers' on the list.

Compared with the previous nine, results from this year's report, highlight several shifts in the corporate landscape. When the results were first reported in 2006, technology companies comprised of 33 percent of the top 100 brands. Now, it's 44 percent. Technology brands on this year's list have a combined value of $900.8 billion – the highest of any sector.

Telecom providers have the second-largest slice of value, but those brands' values total $388.2 billion, about 43 percent of technology brands' values.

Meanwhile, brands in retail and consumer categories, including apparel and luxury, are losing footing. In 2006, 34 percent of the top 100 most valuable brands were consumer and retail brands; now they make up just 22 percent.

This year, apparel brands had .1 percent growth in value, according to the report. This figure starkly differs to last year's statistic, when apparel brands like Nike and H&M saw a 24 percent rise across the board. The report cites increasing competition, shoppers' savviness, and currency fluctuations for apparels' mixed performance. For example, Nike grew 21 percent year-to-year, while H&M dropped 11 percent.

The report predicts that lower prices and more competition in apparel will make it more important to engage consumers with the brand both in stores and online. Technology brands like Apple need to continue focus on building the brand and not on launching products that they assume loyal customers will automatically purchase.

Other technology brands like Facebook and Google need to find more ways to monetize without ruining the consumer's experience, BrandZ says – otherwise, they will crack under pressure from investors. 

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