Apple Beats Google For Top Spot in Global Brand Ranking

McDonald's, IBM Fall as Verizon and Microsoft Climb in Millward Brown 'BrandZ' List

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Score one for Apple over Google. The iPhone maker has reclaimed the top spot in the annual ranking of the world's most valuable brands compiled by WPP's Millward Brown.

The BrandZ Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2015
Rank 2015 Brand Category Brand value 2015 ($M) Brand value change Rank 2014
1 Apple Technology 246,992 67% 2
2 Google Technology 173,652 9% 1
3 Microsoft Technology 115,500 28% 4
4 IBM Technology 93,987 -13% 3
5 Visa Payments 91,962 16% 7
6 AT&T Telecom providers 89,492 15% 8
7 Verizon Telecom providers 86,009 36% 11
8 Coca-Cola* Soft drinks 83,841 4% 6
9 McDonald's Fast food 81,162 -5% 5
10 Marlboro Tobacco 80,352 19% 9
*The Brand Value of Coca-Cola includes Lights, Diets and Zero

Apple's value jumped 67% to $247 billion, while Google only increased 9% to $174 billion, according to the so-called BrandZ rankings, which factor in financial performance as well as consumer perception.

The 2015 list brings more bad news for McDonald's, whose value dropped 5% to $81 billion, putting it at No. 9. The struggling fast feeder was ranked No. 5 last year, and was No. 4 in 2013. The only other top 10 brand to lose value was fourth-ranked IBM, whose value fell 13% to nearly $94 billion. Big Blue was surpassed by Microsoft, whose value jumped 28%. Verizon, which recently announced plans to acquire AOL, jumped to No. 7 from No. 11 last year.

Apple and Google have been jockeying for No. 1 in recent years, with Apple holding the top spot in 2012 and 2013 before Google took No. 1 last year. While the Apple Watch has been in the news lately, it was the iPhone 6 that drove Apple's growth this year, according to Millward Brown.

"Apple continues to own its category by innovating and leading the curve in a way that generates real benefits for consumers," Doreen Wang, Millward Brown's Global Head of BrandZ, said in a statement. "Apple is clear on what it stands for, and never stops refreshing its message to sustain the difference that makes it so desirable."

A Google spokeswoman declined comment.

Marlboro fell one spot to No. 10, as its value increased 19% to $80 billion. While smoking obviously has a perception problem, the fact is that 1 billion people in the world still smoke, according to a new study published in the Addiction journal.

Facebook is on the verge of cracking the top 10 after growing 99% to $71 billion, putting it at No. 12. No other brand grew faster.

Chinese ecommerce brand Alibaba, which was not on last year's list, checked in at No. 13, which put it ahead of Amazon (14) and Walmart (26). There are now 14 Chinese brands on the list, up from one in 2006. The number of European brands fell to 24, down from 35 in 2006.

Here are some other notable rankings:

Soft Drinks: Coke and Diet Coke held the top two spots in the category, but Pepsi grew faster than them both and checked in at No. 4 in soft drinks and No. 79 overall (up from 88 last year).

Beer: Budweiser and Bud Light held the top two spots, followed by Heineken and Stella Artois.

Fast Food: Chipotle's value jumped 44%, giving it the fifth-highest value in the category. And while McDonald's fell, Burger King's value jumped 19% as it held the No. 9 spot within the category, behind Domino's and ahead of Panera.

Cars: Toyota came out on top followed by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Ford and Nissan.

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