Pull Over, Ferrari: Lego's Passing You on the Left

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Warner Bros./AP"The Lego Movie" boosted the value of the toymaker's brand.
Legos have apparently assembled themselves into a vehicle and just whipped by Italian car company Ferrari, according to an annual report by consultancy BrandFinance on the world's most powerful and valuable brands.

According to BrandFinance, only a dozen brands got into its top ratings category. Some of the others include accounting firm PwC, Red Bull, Unilever (UN), management consulting firm McKinsey, clothing name Burberry (BURBY), Rolex watches, L'Oreal, Coca-Cola (KO), Nike (NKE) and Walt Disney (DIS).

Brand strength or power is based on goodwill of customers, staff, investors and others; investment in marketing; and the impact those factors have on business performance. Structured similar to a credit rating, AAA+ is the highest rank available.

Hit Movie Helped

Lego had a hot year in 2014. Not only does it appeal to adults as well as to both boys and girls, but "The Lego Movie" helped cement international attention. Amateurs make their own stop-action movies using the building blocks. The company passed on renewing an arrangement with Shell (RDS-A) after the arrangement brought substantial and biting criticism. Add partnerships with the likes of "Star Wars" and expansion of the brand into video games, and you have a name with power.

Ferrari, while still maintaining top brand value, slipped in the rankings from its No. 1 position last year. According to the report, a number of factors caused the change. The company's racing team has "struggled to mount a challenge" in Formula 1 racing.

Another view of brands is their estimated financial value. In that ranking, Apple (AAPL) continues its No. 1 spot at $128 billion, up 23 percent from its previous $105 billion. The power of Apple's name dwarfs that of the $82 billion that No. 2 Samsung, enjoys. Tech has a strong hold in this category, representing nine of the top 10 companies, including Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), Amazon (AMZN), General Electric (GE) and China Mobile. The only company not primarily in the tech space is Walmart (WMT), which could conceivably drop out of the top 10 next year, after being at the top in the past.

BrandFinance also considered up-and-comers, whose brand value grew the most. Twitter (TWTR) led that group at 185 percent growth. Following it were the likes of Baidu (BIDU) (161 percent), Facebook (FB) (146 percent), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) (124 percent), Humana (HUM) (99 percent), Priceline.com (PCLN) (97 percent) and Alibaba (BABA) (90 percent).
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