Google pips Apple as world's most valuable brand, while Lego becomes most 'powerful'

Google has replaced Apple as the world's most valuable brand, while Lego has replaced Disney as the most "powerful" brand globally, new research suggests.

Google’s value rose 24 per cent in 2016 to $109.4bn (£82.8bn), whilst for Apple – which the report says has been "living on borrowed time for several years" – it declined from $145.9bn to $107.1bn, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 report.

The report authors said Google, which last held the top spot in 2011, remains largely unchallenged in its core search business, the mainstay of its ad income. Its ad revenue grew 20 per cent in 2016 as budgets increasingly focus online and Google finds more innovative ways to monetise users, they said.

Google was given a Brand Strength Index (BSI) rating of 92.7, against 92.1 for Apple – the score is from a scale of zero to 100 based on several attributes such as emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability.

Behind Apple were: Nike (92.1), Ferrari (91.9), Visa (91.5), Disney (91.3), NBC (91.3), PWC (90.9), Johnson & Johnson (90.1), and McKinsey & Company (89.8).

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: "Apple has struggled to maintain its technological advantage, with new iterations of the iPhone delivering diminishing returns, while the Chinese market is now crowded with local competitors. "Apple has been living on borrowed time for several years by exploiting its accumulated brand equity. This underlines one of the many benefits of a strong brand, but Apple has finally taken it too far."

Meanwhile, Brand Finance said the building blocks for Lego’s rise to the top of the most powerful brand index have always been present, but the release of the Lego Movie in 2014 provided the final push to make Lego the world’s most powerful brand in 2015. The release of the Lego Batman Movie on 9 February is predicted to help Lego regain its top position in 2017, lost to Disney in 2016.

Haigh said: "Unvalued brands can lead to undervalued companies that are more vulnerable to takeover, struggle to secure adequate financing and miss market opportunities. Meanwhile, a powerful brand can protect a company’s value during turbulent market conditions, create new market opportunities and increase profit margins. All companies should therefore not just know the value of their brands, but also understand what drives that value and how it can be harnessed to benefit the business as a whole."

Other headline findings from the Brand Finance Global 500 report include:

  • China’s bank brands are now worth more than those of the United States
  • ICBC is the world’s most valuable banking brand
  • AT&T has overtaken Verizon to become the world’s most valuable telecoms brand
  • Emirates is no longer the most valuable airline brand, having been overtaken by American, United & Delta
  • Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, KFC & Subway all saw brand values fall, undermined by healthy eating trends
  • Nokia’s brand is back from the brink and back in the top 500, following takeover and rebrand of Alcatel and launch of the Nokia 6 phone

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