An apple a day keeps the Coke away, it seems. According to an influential global brand consultancy, Coca Cola’s gone a tad flat, and Apple and Google have stolen its fizz, displacing it from the top spot in a 'most valuable brand' ranking for the first time since the rankings came into existence in 2000. In a sign of our networked times, technology companies dominate the top 10 list, with six representatives in total—IBM, Microsoft, Samsung and Intel being the other four. Lower down, Facebook registered the biggest increase in brand value in 2013, jumping 17 spots to number 52.
Interbrand, the consultancy behind the rankings, measures brand value based on a number of factors including financial performance, customer loyalty and the role each brand plays in a purchasing decision. Apple’s devoted fandom—the iCult—is well known, of course, and despite all the anxiety Google generates about its pervasive presence in our lives, its stock is trading just shy of $900. Interbrand’s brand valuation for Apple and Google are over $90 billion each, with Coke a rather distant third with $79.2 billion, implying that negative press for both tech giants has failed to adversely affect how people think about them. While the ultimate judge of the strength of a company’s brand is still the market, rankings such as these should not be dismissed as irrelevant. Apple’s brand is synonymous with ease-of-use and seamless integration between hardware and software, which is how it persuades consumers to fork out a premium for its products. Google’s nerdy, slightly kooky persona enables its legions of users to set aside their apprehensions over its extensive data collection. Interbrand’s ranking only formalises the extent to which these companies have become cultural touchstones. If Coca Cola in the late 20th century—along with the golden arches of McDonald’s—came to symbolise global capitalism, today’s zeitgeist is captured by the likes of Apple and Google.