Thanks to the iPhone and iPad, Apple bumped Google in this year's list of Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, the first time that Apple has held first place. Google has been the No. 1 brand for the last four years in a row.
"I would say the big story to me is the tale of the tablet. If you see just how much Apple's brand value has gone up, the iPad is large part of that," said Eileen Campbell, CEO of Millward Brown, the global research agency that published the list.
Last month, Apple announced a 95 percent increase in profit with second quarter earnings of $5.99 billion. The company announced it sold 18.65 million iPhones that quarter, up 113 percent from the period one year ago. Sales of the iPad were lower than expected, however, at 4.69 million units during the quarter.
Campbell said AT&T's significant jump, to No. 7 from No. 22 last year, was also expedited by its relationship with Apple.
Whether we will see Verizon's partnership with Apple affect that carrier's standing is yet to be seen. The current list was compiled for the 2010 fiscal year. Verizon, which jumped to No. 13 from No. 20, first announced in February that it would carry Apple's iPhone.
Facebook appeared for the first time in the Top 100 list at No. 35. The social network company had the highest percentage brand growth this year of all the companies surveyed.
Campbell said what contributed to Facebook's boost was Goldman Sach's $50 billion valuation of Facebook, which is privately held, in January.
"Facebook continues to have great growth prospects," Campbell said. "It's no longer where people are looking up their college boyfriends, or kids connecting. It's becoming really truly a broad social network."
This is the sixth annual list compiled by Millward Brown, which compiles the list from a database of more than 2 million consumer interviews in 30 countries along with publicly available financial data.
Campbell said the list, officially called BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, places an emphasis on consumer opinion as well as a firm's financial valuation.
"The people who really drive brand value is the consumer, whether they're business consumers or traditional home consumers," Campbell said.
For this year's list, Campbell said strong brands are able to withstand the economic downturn or a brand crisis and that was evident in this year's list.
BP, for example, dropped to No. 64 from No. 34 last year.
"Last year we did the valuation before BP's oil spill, so BP's valuation dropped 29 percent this year, which is a great deal," said Campbell. "But we thought that was a pretty good number for them given all the negative press."
Campbell said BP entered the 2010 fiscal year as the most socially responsible of oil companies.
"So they had a pretty good reserve of goodwill," she said.
"Frugal" brands such as McDonald's (up to No. 4 from No. 6) were able to withstand the economic downturn, while luxury brands "bounced back quite nicely" this year, in part because of a recovering economy, said Campbell.
Another surprise in this year's list includes the growing presence of non-U.S. companies, especially from Brazil, Russia, India and China.
"We've taken particular attention to Chinese brands," Campbell said. "There has been a real emergence, particularly in China, of value in creating power brands, a brand that can drive real financial value."
2011 Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands:
6. Coca-Cola Company
9. China Mobile