Recognised for its continual innovation, increased advertising revenue, and cloud business growth, Google reclaims top position from Apple.

The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands newly released report by WPP and Millward Brown places Google in top rank for 2016. Recognised for its continual innovation, increased revenue from advertising, and growth in the cloud business, the brand reclaims the winning position from tech giant, Apple.

Having increased its value by 32 percent to $229 billion, the internet leader outshone its rival’s performance, knocking down said contender to second place with its -8 percent decline in value to $228 billion. Joining the elite circle, Microsoft grabbed third spot, growing its value by five percent to $122 billion.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Amazon, in fifth and seventh place, entered the Top 10 for the first time, after having reeled in a 44 and 59 percent rise in value respectively. The total brand value held by the Top 100 rose by three percent year on year to hit the $3.4 trillion mark.

The BrandZ data and analysis indicates that 2016 was a stable year for the world’s most powerful brands in the face of global financial pressures, including the economic slowdown in China. However, the brands which innovated, and then showcased their innovations to consumers through brand experience, have achieved standout growth with Google, Amazon, and Facebook serving as prime examples.

Disruption was the dominant trend, with brands changing the status quo with their offerings in a number of ways, often beyond the use of digital technologies. Brands of all kinds moved to build a multi-faceted ecosystem around the consumer’s needs and desires, often by diversifying into new categories.

Amazon built its own logistics network using independent contractors, which enabled it to offer flexible and one-hour delivery options, and started producing its own content. Facebook began hosting publishers’ original content to keep members active. Starbucks (+49%, No. 21) moved into the ecommerce space with a ‘tap and go’ app, enhanced its cold drinks and savoury ranges, and offered beer and wine to extend its relevance.

“The brands that thrive, regardless of sector, are those that behave like challengers and adopt disruptor models and mindsets. They’re shaking up other categories with innovation that goes beyond new products or technologies; transforming the way a service is delivered, enhancing the consumer experience or changing a format. “The power these brands already hold, combined with the strength of their platforms, is enabling them to quickly and successfully move across sectors,” said David Roth, CEO EMEA and Asia at The Store WPP.

The BrandZ Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2016

Rank 2016 Brand Category Brand Value 2016 ($M) Brand Value Change Rank 2015
1 Google Technology 229,198 +32% 2
2 Apple Technology 228,460 -8% 1
3 Microsoft Technology 121,824 +5% 3
4 AT&T Telecoms 107,387 +20% 6
5 Facebook Technology 102,551 +44% 12
6 Visa Payments 100,800 +10% 5
7 Amazon Retail 98,988 +59% 14
8 Verizon Telecoms 93,220 +8% 7
9 McDonald’s Fast food 88,654 +9% 9
10 IBM Technology 86,206 -8% 4


Key trends highlighted in this year’s BrandZ Top 100 study include:

  • Strong brands outperform the market. Brands which appear in the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking consistently deliver a better financial performance than brands which are not included, thereby generating a superior return for shareholders.
  • Disruption is a catalyst for value growth. The categories which increased in value were all either shaken up by challenger brands founded on a unique and meaningful proposition, such as Under Armour and Victoria’s Secret in the apparel category (+14%), or innovated to a high degree in response to a new trend, such as the brands in the fast food category (+11%) which successfully responded to global demand for healthier products.
  • Innovation is the main growth driver – but it must be seen and felt by consumers. The brands that are the strongest innovators have increased their value the most over the 11 years of BrandZ Top 100 rankings. However, to have an impact on brand value, innovation must be clearly communicated and delivered through the brand experience: the brands that are perceived as innovative by consumers—which include Disney (No. 19) and Pampers (No. 37) – grew nine times faster than those seen as less innovative.
  • Apparel is the fastest growing category, rising 14 percent to $114 billion. There is an emphasis on high performance, with brands including Nike (+26%) and Under Armour (a new entry) launching specialist premium lines, incorporating technology such as heart monitors into their clothing, and integrating sportswear with free apps to provide a total consumer experience.
  • B2B is a category of efficient businesses but inefficient brands. They are perceived as more responsible than B2C brands, better to work for, good value and stable, but not as exciting or dynamic. B2B brands are in fact highly innovative; ensuring they are credited as such requires strong and meaningful brand communication. SAP (No. 22) and Adobe (a new entry at No. 100) are among the B2B brands being perceived as innovative by customers.
  • Disruption extends to the ranking itself. Close to half of the brands (46) in the 2016 Top 100 entered the ranking after it was first launched in 2006; 54 have been there since the inaugural ranking. This shows how a strong brand can sustain its value over time, but also illustrates the potential which exists for new brands to successfully shake up the status quo.
  • Strong emotional connections are boosting local brands. With a clear understanding of their consumers’ needs, local brands are gaining market share at home and, with improved functionality and marketing, are also winning share in new regions. For example, China’s Huawei (No. 50, +22%) has rapidly globalised and taken market share from both Apple and Samsung.

“By stretching their brands in innovative ways and expanding into new categories, the strongest brands in the Top 100 are increasing their penetration and their relevance in people’s day-to-day lives,” Doreen Wang, Global Head of BrandZ at Millward Brown.

“There is a risk in doing this, however: it blurs the lines between categories and can leave brands struggling for identity. Defining and articulating a very clear positioning and purpose will play a more crucial part than ever in building a strong, distinct brand.”

BrandZ report and rankings and more brand insight for key regions of the world and 14 market sectors, are available online. A new suite of interactive smartphone and tablet applications is available for free download via Apple IOS and all Android devices or BrandZ can be sourced in the respective iTunes or Google Play app stores.

Apple and Visa were also winners at the 2014-2015 World Branding Awards under the Mobile Phones (Global) and Credit Cards (Global) categories respectively.

Additionally, Facebook (Technology – Social Media), Google (Technology – Search), McDonald’s (Fast Food), Apple (Mobile Phones), Starbucks (Retail – Coffee), and Visa (Credit Cards) were all Global-level winners at the 2015-2016 World Branding Awards.

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