Apple has topped an index of the world's best brands for the 10th year in a row, leading a band of technology companies on top of a list that shows how dominant the sector has become over the past decade, according to consultancy Interbrand.
The iPhone maker is the world's most valuable company with a market capitalisation of about $2.2 trillion. Its brand value rose 18 per cent to $482.2 billion from $408.3bn a year ago, New York-based Interbrand said in its ranking of 100 companies.
The top five brands all belong to the technology industry. US software company Microsoft climbed one place to second as its brand value surged 32 per cent — the best in this year's rankings — to $278.3bn, overtaking Amazon, the world's biggest online marketplace, which slipped to third as its brand value increased 10 per cent to $274.8bn.
Internet company Google and Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturer, retained their spots at fourth and fifth, respectively. California-based Google's brand value jumped 28 per cent year-on-year to $251.6bn, while Seoul-based Samsung posted a 17 per cent annual growth to $87.7bn.
“Humanity will advance more in the next 50 years than it has in all of history — a shift driven largely by technology. This acceleration will fundamentally shift how we engage with each other, with business and with the world at large,” Gonzalo Brujó, global chief executive of Interbrand, said in the report.
Toyota, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Disney and Nike rounded out the top 10, all maintaining their same ranks from 2021 and with a combined brand value of about $274bn — which is still short of the value of each of the top three.
However, the top 10 can be considered a “super league”, as their business models have been built on a “foundation of exceptional experiences and strong integrity”, Interbrand said.
“These companies can move in multiple directions, growing their share in customers’ lives, along with their brand value and market cap,” it said. The top five brands on the list have a combined market cap of almost $6.2tn as of Saturday, according to market data.
The technology sector has emerged as some of the best-performing stocks over the past years, as demand for consumer electronics and services has grown exponentially, especially with the introduction of products and smart technologies.
Cupertino-based Apple, in particular, has thrived, even during the coronavirus pandemic, being able to carry on with product launches — most notably its flagship iPhone, iPads and Mac computers — and expand the scope of its services — which has become a vital cog of its business — despite extremely tight market conditions as a result of the global health crisis.
That resulted in several quarterly earnings records for the company over the past couple of years, which helped the company hit the $3tn market cap level in January.
Brand Finance, a London-based consultancy, has also ranked Apple as the world's most valuable brand, with a value of $355.1bn.
Technology stocks, however, have underperformed in 2022, baffling analysts as to how companies that are supposed to be the pillars of a global economy that is increasingly being digitalised can quickly fall out of favour.
In late October, shares in megacaps Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook owner Meta Platforms tumbled after reporting their third-quarter earnings, wiping out $477bn in combined market value in the trading session after the results. Apple was the only stock to gain at the time.
The sector is battling a number of challenges, including supply issues, rising currencies, high inflation and an uncertain economic future. Lately, this has prompted technology companies to reconsider their strategies and even cut staff — Apple being no exception.
Nevertheless, the top brands are forecast to continue their upwards pace, as the leaders of these “super brands” understand how, where and when to deploy their brand as an asset against emerging customer needs in perpetually-changing landscape, Interbrand said.
“The brand is a vehicle through which the business is able to address a range of different customer needs, through an extended portfolio of differentiated products and services. These companies leverage the utility in their brand to drive exponential growth,” it said.
“Brands have never had as much power and responsibility, and on such a scale.”
The cumulative value of the top 10 brands on Interbrand's list is at $1.65tn, which is greater than the combined value of the next 90 companies, which is at $1.44tn. Overall, aggregate value of the 100 brands exceeded $3tn for the first time.
Microsoft's 32 per cent rise is tied with Tesla, the world's biggest electric vehicle maker, and French luxury fashion house Chanel. In terms of rankings, US payments company MasterCard climbed the most, rising nine spots to 41st.