The 100 most valuable global brands


By Samantha White

Technology companies are the kings of the brand, according to the Top 100 Most Valuable Brands 2014 compiled by Millward Brown. Google, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft occupy the top four positions, respectively, in the ranking, which is developed using financial analysis and consumer research.

Technology brands make up almost 30% of the Global Top 100. Google’s brand value was up by $42.5 billion compared with last year, allowing the company to reclaim the top spot from Apple, while the fastest riser in percentage terms was Chinese social network and internet portal Tencent. Its brand value rose by 97% versus the previous year to take 14th place in the table.

Amazon (tenth) became the first retailer to make the top ten. Brands from the telecom and banking sectors also fared well over the past year.

The value of the Top 100 brands has increased from $2.6 trillion in 2013 to $2.9 trillion, suggesting a resurgence of growth following the global downturn of recent years. The brand value figure is arrived at by calculating each brand’s financial value based on reported earnings and predicted future earnings as well as the brand contribution from a customer viewpoint.

A large proportion of this growth came from brands based in the resurgent economies in North America and Europe. Only 14 brands from emerging economies made the ranking, compared with 17 in the 2013 list.

The value of brands in the apparel sector experienced the largest growth, up 29% versus the previous year.

Many of the brands making their debut on the list were involved in the technology and finance sectors, with social media sites Twitter and LinkedIn joining the list at 71 and 78, respectively, along with Bank of America (94), ING Bank (98), and UBS (99).

While North American companies dominated the top ten, Vodafone, HSBC, and Shell were the UK’s top performers; SAP, Deutsche Telekom, and Louis Vuitton in Continental Europe; Tencent, China Mobile, and ICBC bank in Asia; and Corona, Skol, and Falabella in Latin America.

How to grow brand value

According to Millward Brown, the research agency behind the report, the most successful brands generate appeal or love, set trends that benefit the customer, and come to mind spontaneously. The authors provide the following tips on growing your company’s brand value:

  • Be customer-centric. Companies should analyse their data to understand individual customers, their circumstances, and their behaviour.
  • Clearly establish the critical difference between your product and the competition.
  • Be present on social media, but only where it makes sense for the brand. Similarly, keeping the brand up to date doesn’t mean sacrificing its heritage. Authenticity is the most important factor.
  • Constantly test your strategy against the reality of the market, and be flexible where necessary.
  • Keep an eye on developments and innovation in the wider sector, particularly in emerging markets.
  • Roll out any new strategies that have been in the pipeline for the last few years to capitalise on renewed consumer confidence. 
  • Have a purpose besides profit. The purpose should be relevant to your brand, valued by your customers, and actively pursued by the company.
  • Investment in your brand will be reflected in a quantifiable return at the till or in the share price.
  • Embrace technology to gain an advantage before your competitors do.

Top ten global brands 2014

 Rank Brand   Brand value Value compared with 2013 
 1  Google  $158,843 million  up 40%
 2  Apple  $147,880 million  down 20%
 3  IBM  $107,541 million  down 4%
 4  Microsoft  $90,185 million  up 29%
 5  McDonald's  $85,706 million  down 5%
 6  Coca-Cola  $80,683 million  up 3%
 7  Visa  $79,197 million  up 41%
 8  AT&T  $77,883 million  up 3%
 9  Marlboro  $67,341 million  down 3%
 10  Amazon  $64,255 million  up 41%

Samantha White (swhite@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

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