Apple displaces Coca Cola as the most valuable brand after the latter’s 13-year reign at the top
Technology to continue to dominate top brands list due to its pervasiveness, relevance & value
TWO technology behemoths have been crowned the most valuable brands in the world by Interbrand, with one of them dethroning a household name that has held on to the top spot consecutively for close to a decade-and-a-half.
In its Best Global Brand 2013, the global branding consultancy ranked Apple Inc and Google Inc as the No 1 and No 2 most valuable global brands respectively, knocking former leader The Coca Cola Company to third place for the first time in 13 years.
Cupertino, California-based Apple was ranked No 2 in Interbrand’s Best Global Brand last year, while the Mountain View, California-based search and advertising king Google moved from No 4 last year to its current No 2.
The report noted that Apple’s brand value had risen to US$98.3 billion, up 28% from a year ago, with Google coming in at US$93.3 billion, up 34% from the year before. Comparatively, Coca Cola came in with a brand value of US$79.2 billion, up a mere 2% from the year before.
Rounding up the top-10 most valuable global brands list in descending order were: IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, McDonald’s, Samsung, Intel, and Toyota. The complete Top 100 most valuable brands can be viewed here.
The Interbrand report begins by noting that every so often, a company changes people’s lives, not just with its products but also with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands for Interbrand, Apple is the new leader.
Jez Frampton, global chief executive of Interbrand, said in his opening address that few brands have enabled so many people to do so much so easily, which is why Apple has legions of adoring fans.
“With a reputation for revolutionising the way we work, play and communicate, Apple has set a high bar for aesthetics, simplicity, and ease of use that all other brands are now expected to match.
“Apple’s ability to ‘think different’ and deeply consider the customer experience is what makes the brand a leader – one that has inspired a loyal following and has the whole world anticipating its next big move. Brands, as Apple exemplifies so well, are business strategy brought to life,” he said.
Tech brands gaining strength
While it’s hardly surprising that Apple and Google claimed the two top spots after being in Interbrand’s radar of the top most valuable brands in the past few years, what was significant in this year’s list was that six out of the top 10 brands were technology-based companies.
In a New York Times report, Interbrand’s Frampton was quoted as saying that although Coca Cola is no doubt an efficient, outstanding brand marketer, Apple and other leading technology brands have become very much more the poster child of the marketing community.
“Brands like Apple and Google and Samsung are changing our behaviour – how we buy, how we communicate with each other, even whether we speak with each other,” Frampton said. “They have literally changed the way we live our lives.”
Two analysts Digital News Asia (DNA) spoke to concurred with Frampton, noting that technology companies are beginning to dominate because of their rising importance in all facets of the world we live in today.
Shiv Putcha, principal analyst for consumer services at Ovum Telecoms, said that as the offline, physical world increasingly blends together with the online world, companies whose brands enable these daily experiences will begin to gain more importance.
Asked if this trend is here to stay, Putcha said, “I absolutely believe this trend will continue for the reasons stated above. The top technology brands may change orders, but new ones could very well emerge.
“For example, a prominent tech giant that is consumer facing but missing from this list is Facebook. As they expand globally and push heavily into mobile, their brand recall will grow significantly.”
Independent brand consultant Mohammad Zain Ibrahim noted that Interbrand’s brand valuation methodology depends on a few factors such as the financial, demand and competitive analyses, as well brand earnings and the risk mitigation factors to determine the most valuable brand positions.
Speaking to DNA via email, the former brand manager for L’Oreal and Nestle said the historical performance and marketing activities of big brands of the past have played a very important role in determining their positions in the valuation today.
“As new products and services, particularly technology products, start to command a huge component of consumer attention and spending, the shift in the brand positions seem almost inevitable,” said Zain, who is also an associate consultant with local advertising agency Infusion.
Asked if technology companies would continue to dominate such global brand valuations, Zain (pic) said he believes that they will, adding that it’s down to pervasiveness, relevance and value of today’s technology brands.
Noting that as technology has become more pervasive, technology brands too are expected to replace consumer goods brands, as these are the things that are more relevant in one’s life today.
“Today, the general observation is that one can't go without a mobile phone for a day, but anyone can definitely skip a Coca Cola for a day,” he explained.
“But back before the days of mobile phone and multiple screens interactions, the first thing we did when we got up in the morning was to brush our teeth. Nowadays, it's checking our Facebook status and tweeting about the dream we had last night.”
Compounding this, Zain said, is the fact that the penetration rates of existing consumer goods have probably reached their highest saturation levels in the 21st century. He noted that technology, on the other hand, would continue to become more prevalent as society becomes more affluent.
“With the advancement of technology, some high-value technology will be made more affordable, making it more accessible to the masses, as exemplified by the smartphone,” he said. “As technology becomes more integral to our daily lives, it will continue to be dominant.”
Asked what must happen for other technology companies to become more valuable as brands, Ovum’s Putcha cautioned that while these technology companies may meet these criteria in an online PC world, the real test will come in a converged world where they will also have to succeed in the mobile space.
“Once this happens, then these brands are truly the enabling factor in our daily experience and therefore will rise [even more] in importance," he said.
Zain added, “Whilst technology as a platform will be important, one must not forget that it is the content, the promise, and the delivering of that promise that will ensure the long term success of any brand. Companies will have to stay true to their value proposition, and deliver on the promise they make to their customers in order to continuously remain relevant.”
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