by Mark Banham
Apple’s brand value has surged 37% but it has only charted a lowly 17th place in this year’s annual Best Global Brands survey from Interbrand, some way behind the less fashionable IBM, Google and Microsoft.
The company, headed by Steve Jobs, boosted its brand through carefully controlled messaging and an endless wave of buzz surrounding new product launches, but somewhat surprisingly failed to make the top 10.
It has recently taken a knock in public perception due to problems with reception encountered by its iPhone 4 handset, which led to the offer of a free rubber casing for those who were dissatisfied with their purchase.
The brand barometer placed soft drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola as its top global brand, with technology brand IBM taking second place, Microsoft third and Google fourth.
Another technology company, Hewlett-Packard, broke into the top ten for the first time as the company had “increased brand value under a new business model and brand platform”, according to Interbrand.
One of the strongest improvers in the technology sector was BlackBerry with a 32% hike in brand value. At 54th place it remains the most popular smartphone for business users, despite pressure from Apple as it edges into the corporate world.
The 11th annual survey from the consultancy said that a number of prominent brands had faced extraordinary crises in 2010 resulting in stalled growth and loss of value.
BP fell out of the ranking this year, on the back of the Gulf of Mexico disaster and its poorly received response.
BP’s environmental disaster and inability to make good on its brand promise of “Beyond Petroleum” led to it falling off of the list. Worse, it saw competitor Shell emerge as the leading oil industry brand, now ranked number 81, up from number 92 in 2009.
Toyota still ranked a surprising 11th place despite the biggest product recall in its history, which caused the brand to lose 16% of its brand value as its long-standing reputation for reliability, efficiency and innovation took a serious knock.
During a difficult year for the auto industry, Mercedes Benz (12th place) and BMW (15th place) were able to sustain and build their value “through innovative design and a focus on delivering premium value vehicles with luxury features”.
Using customer feedback, largely drawn from YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to launch the 2009 Fiesta, Ford at 50th place stood out as one of the best example of how to use social media. Award-winning products like the Q5 and rich heritage helped Audi to 63rd place with a 9% increase in its brand value.
In the financial sector, Citi (40th place) and UBS (86th place) lost double-digits in brand value, while Santander (68th place), Barclays (74th place) and Credit Suisse (80th place) made their debut on the list for the first time.
Their ability to stay true to brand promises in unsure times, and avoidance of the subprime mortgage crisis, helped them stay the course.
“2010 was the beginning of a long road back towards economic recovery,” said Jez Frampton, group chief executive at Interbrand.
“From real-time customer feedback through social media to increased transparency about corporate citizenship, brands were faced with a profound change in the way they relate to customers and demonstrate their relevance and value.
Despite this new paradigm of brand management, the advantages of building a solid brand remain the same.”
Despite the economic downturn, luxury brands Cartier (77th place), Armani (95th place), Louis Vuitton (16th place), Gucci (44th place), Tiffany & Co (76th place) and Hermes (69th place) all saw the value of their brands increase in 2010 by “continuing to invest in their heritage and legendary status.”
Last year’s survey saw financial brands take a hammering due to the global downturn, with internationally famous names such as Citi and UBS seeing the value of their brand slashed in half.