Blog Post

Apple Passes Google as Most Valuable Brand

Apple (s aapl) is now the most valuable brand in the world, according to a report by Millward Brown. Apple surpassed Google(s goog), ending that company’s four-year reign as the top brand, thanks to an 84-percent increase in value during the past year. The single most likely suspect for the change? Apple’s iPad.

The iPad debuted last year and sold very well for a brand new class of device, beating all analyst expectations. The iPad 2 continues to dominate the tablet market; all the resulting revenue is additive for Apple, and so far hasn’t seemed to have cannibalized Mac revenue, as some suspected it would.

Apple’s total value, as measured by Millward Brown (which is based on “financial data combined with consumer measures of brand equity,” according to the company), is $153 billion, while Google’s is $112 billion. Rounding out the top five are IBM (s ibm)  at $101 billion, McDonald’s (s mcd) at $81 billion, and Microsoft (s msft) at $78 billion. All experienced some growth in value during the year except for Google. Apple’s 84-percent rise easily outstripped that of any other company in the top 10 most valuable brands. McDonald’s was next closest, with a 23-percent increase in brand value.

Even if Apple continues to cede global smartphone market share to Google, which isn’t guaranteed to happen (Apple still has plenty of markets to expand to before it matches Android’s reach), its commanding lead in the consumer tablet sector will give it the ability to stay well ahead in brand value. And because Apple controls both hardware and software for its products, it has greater control over consumer perception of its brand, which has an effect on these rankings.

It’s worth noting, though, that the same study also found AT&T (s t) is the most valuable telecom brand. AT&T ranked seventh overall in the top 100, despite significant continued negative customer perception because of the company’s spotty coverage in major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.

While brand value may not always accurately reflect the experience of customers, it does provide an interesting picture of how companies that aren’t often compared to one another measure up. The top 10 brands, despite being from very different industries (with the exception of the many tech and telecom brands represented) are all ones whose logos most would instantly recognize. The only exception is likely China Mobile, which came in ninth and leads 12 Chinese brands among the top 100.