Apple has regained its position at the top of the table in the 2015 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, overtaking Google and growing by 67 percent to record a total brand value of US$247 billon, with the search giant growing just 9 percent to $173.7 billion.
Microsoft, now worth $115.5 billion, is the new no.3, rising one position with value growth of 28 percent with IBM rounding off the top four in a technology dominated ladder.
According to BrandZ, Apple’s growth has been driven by successful sales of the iPhone 6 with the brand once again seen as leading the curve with an approach that generates “real benefits for consumers, making life easier in a fun and relevant way.”
The fastest riser in the BrandZ Top 100 is Facebook, growing 99 percent to $71.1 billion, achieved through its “successful strategy of acquiring other social apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp”, and an understanding of how to monetise and cross-sell its acquired platforms by selling optimal advertising solutions to businesses with a specific target audience.
The success of Apple, Google and the other tech brands in this year’s listing also reflects the power of the technology sector, which grew the total valuation of the Top 20 brands by 24 percent to just over $1 trillion.
Retail was the only category to match this performance, growing by the same percentage.
The BrandZ analysis has also identified that the traditional dividing line between business to consumer brands and business to business services has disappeared, as technology tools that were once the sole preserve of businesses become critical to consumers too and vice versa.
The transition to cloud computing in particular has dramatically changed business models and caused brands to cross the dividing line.
Two tech titans that are making this journey are Google and Microsoft, with the former entering the telecoms market to become more valuable to business clients while the latter is now making tools and services such as Windows 10 available for free in order to add value to a consumer audience.
“The dividing line between what services we want to use as consumers and those that businesses need has been steadily whittled away and is now effectively meaningless,” says Elspeth Cheung, Global BrandZ Valuation Director, Millward Brown.
“Whether we store our pictures or our spreadsheets in the cloud, the product benefit of always-on access is the same.
"Tech brands are the first sector to have to recognise that while we may be business decision makers we are also consumers.”
New to the top 20 tech brands this year are China’s rising telecom infrastructure provider Huawei, which has been valued at $15.3 billion, and photographic software to marketing platform company Adobe, valued at $7.4 billion.
Huawei has invested $600 million in 5G research as it challenges Sweden’s Ericsson in telecoms infrastructure while also boosting its status as a handset manufacturer.
Adobe boosted its subscriber numbers by 600,000 in Q4 2014 alone and consolidated its position as one of the few end-to-end marketing agencies capable of both creating a campaign and optimising it in digital channels.