Google pips Apple to top spot of world's 'most valuable' brands

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Google has taken over from Apple as the world's most valuable brand in an annual ranking amid signs the technology giant has "reached saturation point".

Apple's fall in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking after five years at the top comes as the study claims its brand value dropped 27% to US dollars 107.1 billion over 2016, while Google's rose by 24% to US dollars 109.5 billion.

Lego has replaced Disney as the most powerful brand in the world, according to the ranking.

The report said Google remained "largely unchallenged" in its core search business, with its advertising revenues up 20% in 2016.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh said: "Apple has struggled to maintain its technological advantage.

"New iterations of the iPhone have delivered diminishing returns and there are signs that the company has reached a saturation point for its brand."

Lego's success followed licensing deals with Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Batman franchise, which would also reinforce the company's brand strength among both children and adults "for years to come", the report said.

Meanwhile, Visa and MasterCard's brand value grew by 81% and 58% respectively in 2016 as their core markets continued to move towards a cashless society, Brand Finance said.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi both fell in the ranking, by 13 and 12 places respectively, as scrutiny around the marketing of sugary drinks to children gained pace.

Fast food outlets McDonald's, KFC and Domino's Pizza continued to drop down the ranking, with their brand value falling by 9%, 27% and 16% respectively.

The Global 500 five most valuable brands are:

:: 1. Google

:: 2. Apple

:: 3. Amazon.com

:: 4. AT&T

:: 5. Microsoft

The top five most powerful brands are:

:: 1. Lego

:: 2. Google

:: 3. Nike

:: 4. Ferrari

:: 5. Visa