The most valuable brands in the world
This year's winners reveal a troubling, and yet wholly unsurprising picture of modern society. So which brands top the list?
1. AppleThe brand has been valued at $183 billion, and takes the top spot for the second year running. It is a reflection of how the brand has come to dominate, by combining sleek design with clever technology that makes gadgets user-friendly even for the most committed technophobe. However, with a brand offering such luxury, high-priced options dominating, it's a concern at a time when few can afford real luxuries.
2. IBMThis is valued at $116 billion, and is up one place from last year. This is interestingly due to it having built a robust corporate image, which people have come to rely on in the ever-changing world of technology.
3. GoogleA value of $108 billion means the brand falls one place this year. After becoming the ubiquitous search engine, it then struggled to extend the brand into other areas. While on the one hand we could look at this as a sign of how much we value progress, we also have to ask why we cannot be satisfied with a business that does something simple well.
4. McDonaldsThis has been valued at $95 billion, and holds the same place as last year. Your view of the longevity of the brand depends on whether you think it has more to do with its reinvention as a smart cafe using natural ingredients - or the fact we love a cheap and cheerful burger as a quick pick-me-up in times of austerity.
5. MicrosoftA value of $77 billion sees the brand lose 2% of its value over the year, but hold onto the same spot in the list. The role of Microsoft as the brand that we all love to hate endures, because while everyone would love a Mac, they own a PC.
6. CocaColaIts value of $74 billion, an increase of 1% and its stationary position on the chart is perhaps a cheering sign that a company can be allowed to do one thing well.
7. MarlboroA value of $73 billion would seem to show that even in an age where tobacco is despised and plain packaging is growing in popularity, a brand can hold sway. Whether it is the enduring image of the cowboy or the enduring addictive qualities of tobacco is up for debate.
8, 9, 10, 12. AT&T, Verizon, China mobile and VodafoneValues between $43 billion and $69 billion go to show that telecoms are now the utility with the most central position in our life, making us increasingly dependent on good service and honest pricing - which isn't always a guaranteed certainty with some in this sector.
Disappointingly, UK brands do not fare well in the list, with Tesco and HSBC some of the rare brands to feature.
Meanwhile, interestingly, Facebook only makes it to number 19, with a value of $33 billion - which isn't going to come as a particularly welcome piece of news for new investors.
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