Interbrand unveils “best global brands” – but is brand valuation brilliant or bullshit?

Ahead of a debate next month of the value of brand valuation, Interbrand has named Apple, Google and Coca-Cola as the world’s most valuable brands.


Apple, Google and Coca-Cola are the world’s most valuable brands, according to a new report by Interbrand.

The 2015 Best Global Brands report is Interbrand’s 16th annual brand ranking. This year it gives Apple a brand value of $170 billion (£112 billion) to lead the table. This is a 43% increase on last year.

Second-placed Google has a brand value of $120 billion (£79 billion), up 12% on last year, while third-placed Coca-Cola is down by 4% to $78 billion (£51 billion).

ISO-certified method

New entrants to the top 100 brands this year are Lego, PayPal, Mini, Moët & Chandon and Lenovo.

Interbrand says its methodology for the ranking is certified by the International Office for Standardisation and is based on a combination of indicators, including the financial performance of branded products and services and the role the brand plays in influencing customer choice.

Interbrand says: “A strategic tool for ongoing brand management, valuation brings together market, brand, competitor, and financial data into a single framework within which the performance of the brand can be assessed, areas for improvement identified, and the financial impact of investing in the brand quantified.”

It adds: “Interbrand was the first company to have its methodology certified as compliant with the requirements of ISO 10668 (requirements for monetary brand valuation) and has played a key role in the development of the standard itself.”

Interbrand’s global director of brand valuation Michael Rocha will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing event next month, at a debate titled: Brand Valuation is Brilliant/Bullshit – Debate and Delete as Applicable.

Rocha will be joined on a panel by Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh and global head of BrandZ/Millward Brown Doreen Wang, both of whom also operate brand valuation ranking systems.

“Fluffy marketing” and “bollocks”

The panel will be in discussion with Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson, who wrote earlier this year that brand valuation was “fluffy marketing” and “bollocks”.

In his MW column, Ritson pointed out the huge disparities between the values of brand according to different ranking systems – as well as the difference in real-world value when brands are sold.

He wrote: “With such huge disparities between each other and the stated prices sometimes paid for these brands, it’s difficult not to conclude that the entire brand valuation game is unfortunately another example of ‘fluffy marketing’.

“Sadly, most marketers… won’t even understand what I am talking about. They will look at the league tables, accept the inane explanations for why one brand is bigger than another and take everything at face value.”

The top ten brands in Interbrand’s 2015 Best Global Brands report

Position Brand Value  Annual Growth
1 Apple $170bn 43%
2 Google $120bn 12%
3 Coca-Cola $78bn -4%
4 Microsoft $68bn 11%
5 IBM $65bn -10%
6 Toyota $49bn 16%
7 Samsung $45bn 0%
8 GE $42bn -7%
9 McDonalds $40bn -6%
10 Amazon $38bn 29%

Hide Comments (5)Show Comments (5)
  • Paul Bailey October 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

    If a ‘brand’ is a combination of concepts (values, meaning, purpose, feelings) and things (products, logo, imagery) then a large part of a ‘brand’ is qualitative. What the various brand valuation methodologies try to do is to quantify information that is (partly) qualitative. Is this possible? Can you put financial value on a feeling or a relationship?

  • Stephanie Brown October 6, 2015 at 10:56 am

    It’s certainly a fantastic new business/marketing tool for Interbrand (else they wouldn’t continue their annual investment in it). As to it’s ‘validity’ does it really matter (see first sentence)…

  • Derek Johnston October 6, 2015 at 11:30 am

    I still think the Beatles, or maybe Jesus are bigger.

  • Derek Johnston October 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

    …And what about Ed Sheeran?

  • gideon yeomans October 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Brand value is an intangible asset, and as such its value does not play any part accounting procedures or appear in any financial statements. Some would argue that as with any asset the true worth is only realised when it is sold, which would then more than likely appear as a “goodwill” payment.

    Where Interbrand’s method is of value is its attempt to assess a brands driving factors in a company’s pricing, performance and ROI.

    What does make me wonder from an investment point of view is the inclusion of Amazon? Its performace has yet to return a profit of any significance, how can its brand be of a value so high?

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