Apple tops Forbes most-valuable brands list, Microsoft follows

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 1 2010, 05:02am hrs
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Apple has emerged at the top of the Forbes list of worlds most valuable brands, despite signal reception complaints over its glitzy iPhone 4 and a pancreatic cancer nagging its iconic founder. Despite a hefty settlement to pay for healthcare expenses, the Marlboro man reigns supreme at No.8 in the latest list. And Goldman Sachs, disparaged as a vampire squid who feeds on its hapless victims, is at No 45, unchallenged in the investment banking industry.

Even with an SEC suit hanging over its head (the company has since settled, agreeing to pay $550 million), Goldman was once again the top M&A bank in the first half of 2010, Forbes said.

Apple is a company that has faced setbacks before and bounced back to become the worlds most valuable brand worth $57.4 billion, Forbes said, explaining the companys No 1 position. Apple shows just how a brand can survive and thrive even when a parent company stumbles. Apples sales in the late 1990s plummeted 46% over a four-year stretch while the company lost money seven times over eight quarters, said the magazine. Technology brands occupied four of the first five places in the rankings and claimed 30% of the top 50 brands, indicating the dominance of technology in consumers lives. Financial services and food and beverage firms each captured six spots.

Apple was followed by arch-rival and software major Microsoft with a brand value of $56.6 billion. Beverages firm Coca-Cola was third at $55.4 billion, followed by technology giant IBM, worth $43 billion. Google was fifth in the ranking with $39.7 billion. McDonalds, General Electric, Marlboro, Intel and Finnish handset maker Nokia featured in the top 10 list. The brands on our list fared a little better, with sales on average flat in 2009. Some brands were hit hard by the economic downturn as well as their own missteps,Forbes noted. However, everyone was not lucky enough to retain their brand value in bad times. A Forbes report pointed to Toyota, caught in a maelstrom of vehicle recalls and safety issues: The Toyota brand is worth $24.1 billion, but its perceived quality score fell 20%.

Toyota always promoted quality, and then they delivered exactly the opposite, says Mindshares Parkhurst, who argues the fallout would not have been as bad if Toyotas brand promise all these years had to do with, say, horsepower. Barring any more major setbacks, Parkhurst says he believes Toyota can bounce back over the next two years. Vodafone, Pepsi, Nescafe, Frito-Lay, ESPN and Gucci were the other brands in the top 50 list.