A brand is defined as a distinguishing symbol, mark, logo, name, word, sentence or a combination of all of the above that companies use to distinguish their product from others in the market. A trademark or trade name are similar terms that describe how a company reaches out to customers and wants to be identified. It turns out that the brands of some of the most successful companies in the world have significant value in the billions of dollars.
These are the top 10 most valuable brands in the world and an analysis of what happened over the last 12 months to shift those companies into their respective rankings.
Brand value: $36.3 billion
Percentage change from last year: +32%
Last year’s rank: 13
What happened: Chinese state-owned bank ICBC is the world’s largest and also the most valuable bank in the world.
This year the bank pulled ahead of Wells Fargo to become the most valuable bank as well as the most valuable financial brand in the Brand Finance rankings.
The bank had steady financial results in 2016 with net profits growing by 1 billion yuan ($145 million). This was despite the bank coming under fire for alleged improper conduct and money laundering, which led to its Madrid offices being raided in February 2016.
Brand value: $61.9 billion
Percentage change from last year: +82%
Last year’s rank: 17
What happened: 2016 was a good year for Facebook. In April CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined its 10-year plan which would focus the company artificial intelligence, increased connectivity around the world and virtual and augmented reality.
The social media company’s revenue grew by 51% in 2016 and shows no sign of stopping in 2017. Instagram’s growth is expected to account for 20% of Facebook’s US mobile revenue in 2017.
Brand value: $62.2 billion
Percentage change from last year: +16%
Last year’s rank: 8
What happened: Walmart beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations with revenue reaching $133 billion, driven by a 36% growth in e-commerce sales. It maintained its eighth spot on the ranking from last year.
It also made a move to improve its employee welfare and started to pay them more last year.
The retailer isn’t letting itself get beat down by Amazon and is already working on its own version of the store of the future.
Brand value: $62.4 billion
Percentage change from last year: +4%
Last year’s rank: 5
What happened: Verizon dropped down from its fifth spot last year after signing up fewer subscribers than Wall Street analysts expected. It did, however, see its revenue grow.
The company made some significant moves to set itself up for the future and grow a media division with the acquisition of Yahoo, video startup Vessel, and media company Complex.
Verizon customers, who get some of the best coverage in the US, are now able to sign up for an unlimited data plan, the first time the carrier has offered one in five years.
Brand value: $66.2 billion
Percentage change from last year: +13%
Last year’s rank: 7
What happened: Despite the scandal of the Galaxy Note 7 catching fire, the South Korean company went up one spot in the rankings.
Financially it quickly bounced back from the smartphone scandal, buoyed by stellar growth in its chip business.
The company faced another scandal to start off 2017, as the group head was arrested in the midst of a corruption scandal.
The company announced its new flagship Galaxy S8 on Wednesday, which it hopes will signal a new beginning for the brand.
Brand value: $76.2 billion
Percentage change from last year: +13%
Last year’s rank: 4
What happened: With every new product release it seems Microsoft is increasingly trying to go against Apple’s customers. Its advertising is increasingly going after the Cupertino company and its products, like the Surface Studio computer, even look similar to a Mac.
Microsoft also closed its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 and launched its augmented reality goggles Hololens.
Yet none of this could help the company beat the intense competition and drop down a spot in the brand finance rankings.
Brand value: $87 billion
Percentage change from last year: +45%
Last year’s rank: 6
What happened: AT&T was at the heart of one of the biggest shifts in media in recent years with its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
The company overtook Verizon as the most valuable telecoms brand. After its 2015 acquisition of DirecTV, it took a monobrand approach and integrated the two logos, which has helped with its recognition among consumers, according to Brand Finance.
Brand value: $106.3 billion
Percentage change from last year: +53%
Last year’s rank: 3
What happened: Amazon’s significant brand value growth meant it came close to securing the top spot in 2017.
It continues to be a force in reshaping the retail market and started to move into physical stores by expanding its Amazon Fresh delivery service, opening brick-and-mortar stores, and launching its checkout-free Amazon Go store.
It stated that 100,000 jobs would be created in the US over the next 18 months, which Brand Finance sees as a sign it could be at the top of the ranking next year.
Brand value: $107 billion
Percentage change from last year: -27%
Last year’s rank: 1
What happened: After five years at the top, Apple lost its crown in 2017. But in recent years it lost its technological advantage, die-hard Apple fans are losing faith, and the company “has over-exploited the goodwill of its customers,” Brand Finance said.
Increasing competition from rival Samsung and Chinese brands like Huawei and OnePlus as well as failing to generate significant revenues from new products like the Apple Watch have brought down Apple’s brand value, according to the report.
Brand value: $109.4 billion
Percentage change from last year: +24%
Last year’s rank: 2
What happened: The last time Google was at the top of the ranking of the most valuable brands in the world was six years ago.
Its ranking in the most valuable brands was helped by a 20% growth in ad revenues. It also introduced its new 6-second bumper ad on YouTube, which is better suited to mobile users. Its brand equity also improved as it got rid of the Nexus smartphone line in favor of a monobrand structure.
It’s unclear how strongly the brand will be impacted by the YouTube ad boycott, which happened after this report was released.