Google has been named the world's most valuable brand, relegating Apple to second place for the first time in three years, according to Millward Brown's annual BrandZ report.
Meanwhile, four Aussie brands have made the top 100, with the banks putting on a strong show.
Commonwealth Bank was up four places to 44, with a brand value of US$21 billion – an 18% improvement on 2013. ANZ was static at 52nd, with a brand value of US$19 billion, up 15% on last year.
Woolworths was down two places to 82, with a brand value of US$11.95 billion, up 8% on last year, and Westpac was up three places to 85, with a brand value of US$11.74 billion, up 17% on 2013.
CommBank and ANZ also made the top 10 most valuable regional bank brands, behind Wells-Fargo, ICBC, China Construction Bank and RBC.
Johnny Panagiotidis, senior business analyst at Millward Brown Australia, told AdNews: "CBA has invested in its brand through the 'Can' campaign while investing in technology to improve customer experience. As a result it is seen as setting the trends in the category and projecting strong leadership through its dynamism, something which other big brands can definitely learn from."
The BrandZ study uses the views of current and potential buyers of a brand, together with financial data, to work out brands' values.
Apple suffered a 20% decline in brand value, to US$148 billion, over the past 12 months. On Google growing by 40% to US$159 billion and overtaking Apple for the top spot, Panagiotidis said: “While Apple remains a top performing brand, there is a growing perception that it is no longer redefining technology for consumers, reflected by a lack of dramatic new product launches.
“In contrast, Google has been hugely innovative in the last year with Google Glass, investments in artificial intelligence and a multitude of partnerships that see its Android operating system becoming embedded in other goods such as cars.”
Citing a trend that the BrandZ report has highlighted, Panagiotidis said tech service brands are thriving whilst product-based companies are struggling.
“The fortunes of the tech sector in 2014 have been split between those providing services to consumers and those making products,” he said. “The former have thrived while the latter are just growing well. The epitome of this duality can be seen from the fate of Apple and Google.
“Digital service brands such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tencent and LinkedIn are now more than just tools, they have become part of our lives. They offer new forms of communication that absorb people's attention and imagination, while also helping them organise the rest of their lives at the same time.”
Having a brand purpose that reaches beyond the bottom line is critical to success, he added: “Brands that are in business for reasons beyond the bottom line have a better chance of success in today's world. It is clear that more organisations are creating brands that make consumers feel good as well as being first class in a functional sense.”
Panagiotidis cited Pampers (ranked 39th most valuable brand) and Dove (ranked eighth in the personal care brand category) as examples of brands that have found success beyond the product, with mother and baby issues, and the 'real women' philosophy.
“Brands whose quest is for share of life instead of share of wallet are likely to dominate as they are more than just brands, they become part of consumers lives,” he added.
But does it really matter if your brand is powerful? “Amid the turmoil of recession and the disruption offered by digital, one thing is very clear: the world's biggest brands have been minimally affected," he said.
“In the midst of the biggest financial turmoil since the great depression combined with a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour triggered by digital channels, the world's biggest brands have survived and even thrived. Companies that have strong, meaningful, salient and differentiated brands have proven resilient to global forces and changing media landscapes.”
Read the full BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report.
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