Apple Picked as World's Best Brand

Apple has replaced Google as the most valuable brand in the world.

That’s the finding of the sixth annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands survey from brand marketing firm Millward Brown, which calculates that Apple’s brand value has risen by 84 percent in the last year and is now worth $153.3 billion. Compared to the company’s 2006 figures, Apple has increased its brand value by 859 percent.

Following Apple among the top five brands are Google, IBM, McDonald’s and Microsoft and rounding out the top 10 were Coca-Cola, AT&T, Marlboro, China Mobile and GE, Millward Brown said.

[How to Grow Like the 'Golden' Apple]

The company determines the brand’s value based on research, including interviews with thousands of consumers, that determines how much of a company’s value is based on brand alone and how much on other factors.

“We look at cash flows of the business and then we ask how much of that money comes from the associations that consumers have with the brand and how much from other factors,” said Mario Simon, managing director of Millward Brown Optimor, who called the process a “collective consumer brain scan.”

“Every time [a consumer] chooses an iPod over another MP3 player we look at how much of the time is it because of the brand and how much is it because it looks cool or because it syncs with iTunes,” Simon told BusinessNewsDaily.

Apple’s astronomic ascension in brand value can be attributed to its unending focus on keeping its customers happy, according to Simon.

“Since the beginning of their brand, Apple has known who they are serving and has had a clear vision of who their customer is,” Simon said. “They are thinking about how to make the life of that customer better.

They are so good at focusing on that purpose of allowing people to self-express through technology. It’s allowed them to make tough decisions over time and carve out specific space for themselves over time.”

Simon said businesses of all sizes can learn from Apple, which, he pointed out, used to be a small business.

“All businesses can ask themselves how to add meaning to lives of their customers,” he said. “Apple has done extremely well at conveying it because they believe it. Any business can do that.”

Another brand that has figured out how to add meaning to its customers’ lives is Facebook , which, though it came in at only No. 35 in terms of brand value, had the highest percentage brand growth this year and appears for the first time in the Top 100. Amazon is the top retail brand. And despite bad publicity and recalls, Toyota is back at No. 1 in the car category; a testament to strong brands and customer loyalty, the BrandZ survey found.

Google, which was No. 1 last year, was ranked in second place on the overall Top 100 list with a brand value of $111.5 billion and IBM was third with a value of $100.9 billion.