The debate over brand values becomes more confused by the year. Several consultancies rank brand values. Each uses different methodologies, perhaps to defend why their figures differ from their rivals.
The most recent study from Interbrand, which can claim it sits on the top-tier of brand valuation operations, shows that the most valuable brand in the world is Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) at just over $70 billion. Next in order are IBM (NYSE: IBM) at nearly $65 billion, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) at $61 billion, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) at almost $44 billion, and GE (NYSE: GE) at almost $43 billion.
The most recent report from Interbrand rival BrandZ shows Google is at the top of the list with a valuation of $114 billion. IBM’s brand is worth $86 billion, followed by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) at $83 billion, Coke at $68 billion and Microsoft at $76 billion.
The two firms agree on the value of the Coke brand, but that is the sole similarity.
Brand values are supposed to be based, in large part, on what the name of a company brings to the total sales of its products. Apple now has the second largest market capitalization of any US company at $325 billion. The company is arguably the largest global corporation for which its brand drives its product sales. Apple’s successful product introductions rely almost exclusively on its brand. That could hardy be said of IBM or GE.
Brand valuation studies will continue to be suspect as long as they are based on a secret “black box” analysis. Poor disclosure is at the heart of the brand valuation consultancy industry.
Douglas A. McIntyre