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TODD SMITH: Tech companies lead rankings of most valuable brands In 2014

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Madison Avenue continues at a frenzied, techy pace with a closely held annual report about how much brands are worth – and big name technology brands top the charts this year.

The Interbrand Best Global Brands 2014 report shows Apple in first place, as the world’s most valuable brand, for a second straight year. Apple took the top spot last year from Coca-Cola, which fell to No. 3. Coca-Cola remained in third place this year, and the No. 2 brand last year, the powerhouse search company Google, kept that spot.

Here are the top brands of 2014:

1. Apple

2. Google

3. Coca-Cola

4. IBM

5. Microsoft

6. General Electric

7. Samsung

8. Toyota

9. McDonald’s

10. Mercedes-Benz

The report ranks the top 100 valuable global brands. The Apple brand is valued at $118.9 billion, up 21 percent from last year.  Google, valued at $107.4 billion, rose in value by 15 percent from last year. Those rankings represent the first time two brands have each earned a value of more than $100 billion in a Best Global Brands report.

Apple remained the most valuable brand this year, according to Interbrand, while Samsung, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz moved up. Despite some critics who have suggested that Apple had lost its luster, the poll still has Apple and Google slugging it out at the top.

Four of the top 10 brands in the 2014 Interbrand report are technology brands. In addition to Apple and Google, they are Microsoft, at No. 5, unchanged from last year, and Samsung, No. 7, up a notch from 2013. IBM, No. 4, the same as last year, is classified by Interbrand as a business services brand; otherwise, half the top 10 brands would be technology brands.

The technology category was the most valuable over all, with a total value of $493.2 billion. Other major brand categories include automotive, financial services and luxury. And Facebook – which had the highest percentage increase in value from last year at 86 percent – is also a technology brand. In only its second year on the list, Facebook climbed to No. 29 from No. 52 in 2013.

The report is the 15th annual look at worldwide brand value by Interbrand, which began compiling the Best Global Brands report in 2000. The rankings and valuations are determined by factors that include the role a brand plays in influencing consumers, a brand’s financial performance and the strength a brand has to command a premium price or to help its parent make money.

Among brands outside technology, the highest rankings were achieved by – in addition to Coca-Cola, IBM and Mercedes-Benz – General Electric, classified as a diversified company (although it has technology aspects), at No. 6, the same as in 2013; Toyota, No. 8, up from No. 10 last year; and McDonald’s, No. 9, down from No. 7 in 2013.

The biggest gains in value achieved by nontechnology brands compared with last year were for Audi, No. 45, up 27 percent; Amazon, classified as a retail brand, No. 15, up 25 percent; and Volkswagen, No. 31, and Nissan, No. 56, each with an increase of 23 percent,.

Of the five brands that made the Best Global Brands list for the first time, one is a technology brand: Huawei, a Chinese brand, at No. 94. The other four newcomers are: DHL, in 81st place; Land Rover, 91st; FedEx, 92nd; and Hugo Boss, 97th.

To see the full Best Global Brands rankings, visit www.bestglobalbrands.com/2014/ranking.


Millennials weigh in on their favorite brands

In another study, conducted by independent ad agency Moosylvania shows that many Millennials have a slightly different take on the top brands of the land. Here’s the Top 10:

1. Nike

2. Apple

3. Samsung

4. Sony

5. Walmart

6. Target

7. Microsoft

8. Coca-Cola

9. Air Jordan

10. Pepsi

There are no real surprises here. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the biggest gains came for Target, Air Jordan and Pepsi while the other seven essentially stayed where they were.

On the Pepsi side, much can be attributed to the growth to spokesperson Mrs. Carter. Target’s jump came thanks to a renewed focus on digital despite all the bad publicity stemming from the data breach. And as much the Spin Cycle would like to attribute Walmart’s win to its recent sustainability efforts, the shift is more likely due to the brand’s ubiquity and its increased presence on social. HP

Here are five biggest surprises:

1. HP – HP is a solid tech company, but it’s not edgy like Apple or Samsung and we can’t think of any projects it has released in recent years.

2. Chanel – Unlike Victoria’s Secret, Converse and other brands atop this list, Chanel is not known for being affordable. But it has made extensive efforts to expand its digital profile, most recently with a campaign featuring Tom Brady’s wife. In some cases, the value of a brand name can outweigh the price of its products.

3. Bethesda/Valve – Of course the kids play video games, but the presence of these studios on the list shows that they also closely follow the companies that make the games – even the indies. These two scored higher than competitors on the strength of games like “Left 4 Dead” and the “Elder Scrolls” series – despite the fact that bigger names like EA and Rock Star Games have far more followers on all platforms.

4. Honda –We all know that Millennials don’t drive. And Honda has never been a particularly hip brand. But social promos with such “influencers” as Questlove and sponsorship of events like Austin City Limits can be very valuable.

5. Best Buy – Big box stores are dead, and everyone knows what a subtweet is, right? The second company that managed to squander the comedic talents of Amy Poehler has been aggressive with its multimedia social marketing campaigns, but Best Buy isn’t big on engagement.


Infected Mic | Administration’s handling of Ebola outbreak

The message from federal officials on the Ebola virus has shifted from one of complete confidence to admission of embarrassing errors. President Barack Obama’s senior public health officials have been subject to withering criticism from lawmakers in both parties. After Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was grilled on Capitol Hill, the president appointed Ron Klain, former chief of staff to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore to oversee the administration’s response to the crisis and is open to the idea of a travel ban but isn’t planning one. In many instances, messages from public-health officials have run counter to events on the ground. Observers say public trust has frayed as the administration’s optimistic statements collide with the reality. Concerns about the Dallas nurse who flew to Cleveland shortly before being diagnosed with Ebola have rippled across the country, as officials expand an investigation into her contacts. Meanwhile, in Liberia as the West African outbreak spreads, the U.S. and other countries are creating in effect a health system from scratch under extreme pressures and deadlines. These efforts are noble and needed, but the response has been lest than stellar. For that, the leaders of our country – namely the Obama administration – get an Infected Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!


» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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