Coke Still No. 1 in Brand Value

IBM, Microsoft, GE Are Runners-Up on Annual List

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DETROIT ( -- Coca-Cola is again the world's most valuable brand, according to Interbrand's just-released annual list of the Best 100 Global Brands.

While Coke held onto its top slot from last year, IBM, by expanding its services and transitioning out of production, moved up to No. 2, knocking Vista-burdened Microsoft to third, said Andy Bateman, CEO of Interbrand New York. GE was fourth, boosted by its "Ecomagination" communications program, and Nokia fifth.

The brands with the biggest growth in the past 12 months were: Google, up 43%; Apple, up 24%; Amazon, up 19%; retailer Zara, up 15%; and Nintendo, up 13%. Only one brand in the top 20, Citi, saw its brand value fall.

Zara puts data to use
Mr. Bateman said although retailers have generally suffered this year, Zara leveraged technology by quickly relaying scanning data from purchases to production in order to keep hot inventory in stock. Apple's iPhone was a massive success and perhaps a halo for its computer business. Apple tallied roughly $4,000 of revenue per square foot of retail space vs. $700 generated by Saks, he said.

Joining the list for the first time are: retailer H&M, taking the No. 22 slot; Thomson Reuters, ranking No. 44; BlackBerry at 73; Ferrari at 93; Marriott at 96; FedEx at 99; and Visa at 100.

Among the five brands with the biggest year-over-year drops in brand value were three financial players: Merrill Lynch, which fell 21%; Morgan Stanley, sliding 16%; and Citi, falling 14%. Gap was down 20%, and Ford dropped 12%.

HSBC holds steady
Faring not so poorly was 27th-ranked HSBC, which dropped only 3%, mostly due to strong international growth, said Mr. Bateman. The losers in all categories generally didn't keep up with consumer trends.

Strong and weaker brands all use research to try to stay in touch with their customers. But the winning brands can innovate quickly and bring fresh ideas to market, said Mr. Bateman, citing a statement by hockey great Wayne Gretsky as advice to fallen brands: "Skate to where the puck was going, not to where it was."
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