"I’d like to buy the world an … iPhone"?
That’s the tune that Apple (AAPL) execs must be singing today after being named the best global brand by brand consultant Interbrand, usurping the top spot in the rankings from Coca-Cola (KO) which has been No. 1 for the past 13 years. But Apple is far from the only tech brand to move up in the rankings, signifying the rising power of tech in the global marketplace.
“Every so often, a company changes our lives, not just with its products, but also with its ethos,” writes Interbrand on its profile of Apple as the new top brand. Interbrand says it's Apple’s ability to create “adoring fans," and simultaneously innovate in design and hardware that pushed it above the crowd. Apple's brand worth rose 28 percent in the last year to $98 billion, according to Interbrand. It came in second last year.
This is a big step for Apple, as many saw the release of the less-expsensive, colorful iPhone 5C as Apple’s first major bid in emerging markets around the world. Though the price came in higher than expected, the combination release of the iPhone 5S and 5C smashed first weekend sales records, selling over 9 million devices around the world. The challenge for Apple now, according to Interbrand, is breaking into the Chinese smartphone market and siphoning value away from global smartphone powerhouse Samsung (who Interbrand ranks eighth and grew 20 percent in value from last year).
And Apple is not the only tech company rapidly rising to the top. Five of the Top 10 companies in the rankings are tech companies, including Google, which nabbed the second spot and its brand value grew 34 percent since last year. Four out of the five “top risers”, or companies which grew the most in value, are tech companies. Amazon grew 27 percent in value. Facebook grew 43 percent in value.
But not all tech companies saw soaring success. Nokia had the largest drop in the rankings, falling from 19 to 57 on the list. BlackBerry fell off the list altogether. Interbrand also noted that Apple has some "issues," including mistreatment of Foxconn factory workers, ongoing patent lawsuits with Samsung, and conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices. All these will need to be worked out to keep its brand on top.
Interbrand first began ranking global brands in 2000, based on brand strength, economic profit, and role of the brand in purchase behavior. In the first set of rankings, there were only nine tech companies on the list and Google did not even make the list. Today, there are 12 tech brands on the to 100 list.