Todd Wasserman
May 28, 2015

To be a top brand, it pays to be techie...and Chinese

Eastern brands triumph, while Apple edges Google for first time, in the latest BrandZ ranking of brand value.

To be a top brand, it pays to be techie...and Chinese

Apple got the upper hand against Google this year on Millward Brown’s BrandZ list of the world’s most-valuable global brands. But the real news is that China is up, and Europe is out.

Overall, there are 14 Chinese brands on the list—just one more than last year—but those brands have a cumulative increase in value of 1,004 per cent since 2006, when just one made the list. US brands grew 137 per cent over the past decade, while Europe’s brands rose 31 per cent. "This represents a shift from West to East," Millward Brown wrote in a release announcing this year’s list. "Most of the brands that have been ‘pushed out’ of the top 100 by China were from Europe."

Among the top movers from China were China Life with a 44 per cent jump in value, Tencent (43 per cent) and Baidu (35 per cent). Alibaba, meanwhile, entered the list at #13, right ahead of Amazon at #14.

Aside from the ascendance of Chinese brands, the list also demonstrated the continuing cachet of tech. Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM made up the top four, while Facebook was the fastest mover with a growth rate of 99% over the past year. Overall, the tech segment grew 24%, and the tech brands on the list make up an aggregate value of $1 trillion, nearly a third of the entire list’s value.

In the tech sector, the battle royale was once again between Google and Apple. Thanks to the successful iPhone 6 launch, Apple regained ground against its Silicon Valley rival. (The Apple Watch was launched too late to impact the list.)

Some brands managed to climb the list despite being neither techie nor Chinese. Chipotle jumped 44 per cent and Audi rose 43 per cent, making it a rare European brand on the upswing. Other big movers included Tommy Hilfiger, Dr. Pepper, Geico, Home Depot, Fanta and Lowe’s.

Now in its 10th year, the BrandZ study pools "rigorous analysis of the financial and business performance of each company" with interviews with more than 3 million consumers. As a result, the list doesn’t correspond to market valuation (where Google wouldn’t come close to trouncing Apple), though it’s not far off from Interbrand’s top 100 Global Brands list, which had Apple at No. 1 and Google at No. 2 in 2014. (Interbrand’s 2015 list is due this fall.) Interbrand’s list also showed strong gains for Facebook and Audi, but included just two Chinese brands—Hong Kong’s HSBC and Hauwei.


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