Then again, Omnicom's Interbrand also had IBM No. 2 in its
brand-valuation ranking released last October, up 8%, but valued
Big Blue at just under $70 billion, only about 60 cents on Brand
Z's dollar. Interbrand had Coke at No. 1, agreeing with CoreBrand
at least on Coke's rank. Brand Z pegs Coca-Cola at only No. 5,
albeit still worth $1.3 billion more than Interbrand gives it
Confused? Well, you're not alone.
The IBM case is but an extreme among many disparities the
Marketing Accountability Standards Board has found in publicly
available valuations of brands, said Meg Blair, president of the
organization, which has been trying to develop a common way of
measuring what brands are worth and how those values change.
"Many of the valuators treat them as black boxes, so you don't
even know what's in it," she said. "Hopefully if the industry
embraces what we're working on, we'll resolve it. If not, I guess
it doesn't get resolved in my lifetime."
For their part, executives of Millward Brown and CoreBrand
talked some about how their methodologies work and why they're
Jim Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand, said his firm's ranking is based
on surveys of more than 10,000 people annually, all of them
corporate executives at VP level or above, none of them asked to
evaluate more than 40 brands at a time to avoid being overwhelmed
by the survey.
He acknowledged his system was at odds with some others, which
use different survey methodologies and also take publicly available
financial data into account. But he said IBM has been slipping in
CoreBrand's rankings since it exited its consumer PC business in
2004, a move he said wasn't handled well from a branding
There were some other head-scratchers in the CoreBrand rankings,
such as Avon Products rising 11 places to No. 41 last year (the
rankings released in late April cover 2011, as do BrandZ's),
despite a series of earnings disappointments, investigations of
bribery allegations in China, and resignations of CEO Andrea Jung
(who remains chairman) and Chief Financial Officer Charles
"A lot of people still feel good about the brand," Mr. Gregory
said, adding that Avon also probably was lifted by good results for
its category, including Estee Lauder and L'Oreal.
That Apple trails Sony on the list, he said, is because while
Apple has ardent fans, many corporate-executive survey respondents
aren't among them.
Eileen Campbell, CEO of Millward Brown, said she's not familiar
with all the details of how the others evaluate brands, but said
Brand Z incorporates specifically sentiment of people who are
customers of a brand among key criteria.
"Some of the things I see in other evaluations in my mind sort
of defy logic," she said.
Millward Brown's Brand Z system, which encompasses both consumer
surveys and analysis of financial data, did have some surprises of
its own this year, such as developing-market brands collectively
declining 1.7% last year -- the first time they've ever fallen
since results first were published in 2006, though they're still up
more than six-fold for the period. Brands from developed markets
rose last year, though only a modest 1%, but up 47% since 2006.
Ms. Campbell said declines in several developing-market stock
markets accounted for the drop in brand value, while many of the
developed-market brands continued to be buoyed by rising sales in
Among other highlights in the Brand Z rankings:
Walmart, after slipping behind Amazon for leadership in retail,
edged Amazon this year barely on brand leadership to regain the top
spot in retail, though both saw their brand value decline. Ms.
Campbell said Amazon was dragged down by the cost of its entry into
Credit-card issuers and processors MasterCard, Visa and American
Express all saw their brand values rise, ranging from an 18% gain
for American Express to a 53% gain for MasterCard, as Ms. Campbell
said they appeared helped by growth in their payment-processing
businesses. But consumer and investment banks saw their brand
values plummet as investor and consumer sentiment turned south,
with Bank of America and Goldman Sachs both dropping out of the top
Another Brand Z finding: Brands with women on their corporate
boards do better than those that don't, with their values rising on
average 66% vs. 6% for the brands with all-male boards.
While developing-market brands on average saw their value
decline, Africa got its first entry in the top 100 with South
Africa telecom MTN entering at No. 88 with a $9.2 billion
Whatever Facebook's travails in stock trading, its brand value
soared 74% -- faster than any other brand in Brand Z's rankings
last year -- to $33.2 billion. That was faster than any other brand
in the survey and based on a relatively conservative Millward Brown
valuation of $85 billion, which was a bit behind the $92 billion
Facebook fell to in late-day trading Monday on its second day as a