Top 5 Most Valuable Global Brands

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Apple remains the top global brand with an estimated value of $185 billion, according to an annual ranking by WPP and Millward Brown. Which other companies have brands worth billions?

The Five Most Valuable Global Brands
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Top 5 Most Valuable Global Brands
Brand value: $185 billion
Sector: Technology
2012 rank: 1

It may have been a lost year for the tech titan in many respects, but Apple's (AAPL) position as the world's most valuable brand remains undisputed.

Still, rivals are gaining share of the smartphone market, profits and margins have been squeezed, Apple stock is 30% off its 2012 peak, and the company hasn't unveiled a major new product since the iPad mini last October.

The company has picked itself up off the mat again in recent weeks by announcing it will hand back $100 billion to shareholders over the next three years and is working on "exciting new product categories." Cue the long-rumored iWatch or iTV?

Brand value: $114 billion
Sector: Technology
2012 rank: 3

Google's (GOOG) share price chart has been almost the mirror image of Apple's (AAPL) since last October, and it's been busy on the product and innovation front.

Developers, and a few in the media, have been given Google Glass to play with. The company has refashioned chat with Hangouts and launched a significant challenge to Spotify and other rivals with Google Play Music All Access.

Watch: Google's new products in 90 seconds

Little wonder, then, that despite some negative publicity about its tax affairs in the U.K. the Google brand is worth 5% more than it was a year ago, making it the second most valuable in the world and overtaking IBM (IBM) in the process.
Brand value: $113 billion
Sector: Technology
2012 rank: 2

It may have slipped a place but the biggest name in "old tech" has had a pretty good year. Big Blue's shares are not far off their all-time high, and while first-quarter earnings weren't great, the previous quarter beat all expectations.

IBM is still reaping the rewards of selling its PC unit to Lenovo in 2005 and focusing more on software and services such as analytics and cloud computing. The drive to exit low-margin businesses took a knock earlier this month when talks on selling its x86 server business -- again to Lenovo -- broke down over price.

With its vast size and global footprint, investors still tend to view the company's earnings as an indicator of overall corporate technology spending and demand.
Brand value: $90 billion
Sector: Fast food
2012 rank: 4

The fast-food giant saw its brand value slip 5%, but held on to fourth place.

McDonald's (MCD) has spent years beefing up its premium line to boost profits and attract parents as much as children. There are signs it may be returning to its focus on value, though, after customers resisted the introduction of a one-third-pound Angus burger.

It's been adding more salads and other foods with less fat, salt and sugar, too, in response to growing public concerns about diet. Last year, it opened a vegetarian restaurant in India.

Brand value: $78 billion
Sector: Soft drinks
2012 rank: 6

Coca-Cola's (KO) brand value rose by 6%, pushing it one place higher in the rankings this year.

The company reported better-than-expected earnings last month, showing consumers still like their fizzy drinks. Emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and India made up for some slack in China, and Coke continues to generate slow and steady growth in developed economies.

Watch: Why teamed up with Coke

There was relief for Coca-Cola and other drinks makers earlier this year when a state judge blocked New York City's planned ban on the sale of large sugary drinks.


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