Best Global Brands: Coke Wins Again, but Google Climbs the Most

Coca-ColaInterbrand, the large brand-valuation company, released its latest list of the "Best Global Brands" on Sept. 15. Its closely watched rankings are based on a brand's financial performance, the extent that the brand causes people to buy its products and the brand's ability to help its company's future earnings. The research firm says its method "takes into account all of the many ways in which a brand touches and benefits its organization -- from attracting and retaining talent to delivering on customer expectation."

Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola again tops the list this year, with a value of $70.5 billion, up 2% from 2009. Coke's parent company (KO), which has a market cap of $132 billion, has a number of other brands in its stable, but the Coca-Cola brand, over 100 years old, is by far the most well-know and largest seller among them.

Following Coca-Cola in Interbrand's ranking are IBM (IBM), up 7% to $64.7 billion, and Microsoft (MSFT), up 7% to $60.9 billion. The software company's standings may have been helped by surging sales of Windows 7. Then comes Google (GOOG), with a brand value of $43.6 billion up 36% to $43.6 billion.

Apple Gains but Still Trails Its Rivals

Google's jump from No. 7 in 2009 to No. 4 this year pulls it closer to archrival Microsoft, and Google was the biggest gainer among the Top 10 brands. It stock is down over the last year, but it's the search leader in many nations around the world, and its Android mobile operating system has done remarkably well. Apple (AAPL) eked out a slightly higher percentage increase (37%), but at No. 17 it trails well behind both Microsoft and Google in the rankings.

GE (GE) is No. 5 on the list, with a brand value of $42.8 billion, down 10%. McDonald's (MCD), at No. 6, is up 4% to $33.6 billion. It's followed by Intel (INTC) at No. 7, up 4% to $32 billion. No. 8 Nokia (NOK) lost 15% of it brand value, down to $29.5 billion. By many measures, it has been the single largest loser in the lucrative smartphone market, and its share price has suffered accordingly. Disney (DIS) was No. 9, up 1% to $28.7 billion. Climbing into the Top 10 for the first time is yet another tech company: HP (HPQ), up 12% to $26.7 billion.


Tarnished brands took a beating. Toyota (TM) tumbled 16% to $26.2 billion. Citi (C) dropped 13% to $8.9 billion. And Dell (DELL) slid 14% to $8.9 billion. The biggest loser was Harley-Davidson (HOG), off 26% to $3.3 billion of brand value. That knocked its ranking down to 98 from 73 in 2009. Of course, BP (BP) may have been an even bigger loser: The company now known most for the calamitous Gulf of Mexico oil spill didn't even make Interbrand's Top 100 this year (it was No. 83 in 2009). At No. 81, Shell (RDS.A) now represents the oil industry's top brand.

After Apple and Google, the biggest percentage gainer among all brands was Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry, up 32% to $6.8 billion.

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