Chart: Ranking the World's Most Valuable Brands

Chart: Ranking the World’s Most Valuable Brands

In just 10 years, tech brands have taken over the list

Tech has already conquered the stock market and the realm of digital advertising.

Now the technology sector also has a strangle hold on another measure: the value of consumer brands.

Global Rank Brand Brand Value 2017
#1 Google $245.6 billion
#2 Apple $234.7 billion
#3 Microsoft $143.2 billion
#4 Amazon $139.3 billion
#5 Facebook $129.8 billion

The massive scale and reach of tech companies has helped their brand values to skyrocket over the last decade. In fact, even just adding Google and Apple’s most recent numbers together gives a figure that rivals the GDP of Sweden.

What is Brand Value, Anyways?

We use a specific methodology to quantify the financial worth of different brands around the world. In this case, by brand, we are referring to the intangible asset that exists in the minds of consumers, which is usually an image forged over time through exposure to branding, ads, publicity, and other types of personal experiences.

Meanwhile, the “brand value” is the dollar amount a brand contributes to the overall value of a corporation. Measuring this intangible asset reveals an additional source of shareholder value that otherwise would not exist.

Diving Deeper

What types of companies are building the strongest brands?

Here is the Top 100 list broken down by a few different key categories.

A Close Look at the Top 100 Brands
Note: in these rankings we are counting both Amazon and Alibaba as tech companies

The amount of Chinese brands making the Top 100 is rising quickly – in 2008, only four made the list.

Today, there are 12 Chinese brands on the list, including widely-known names such as Huawei, Alibaba, and Ping An Insurance.

Other types of brands that do well in the rankings include financial services (23 of 100 brands) and technology (23 of 100 brands).

Brand Value on the Rise

Overall, the cumulative brand value of all 100 companies on the list has been rising. It now sits at $3.6 trillion in total.

Cumulative Value

For comparison’s sake – that’s bigger than the annual GDP of Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy.

Driving a Henry, eating a Milton bar or shopping at Rowland. These are experiences customers might be having were Ford, Hershey and Macy’s named today, rather than 100-plus years ago.

Increasingly prevalent in recent years, first-name brands help give companies and their products more authentic, human identities. If not already, the customer of the future may soon find herself asking Alexa to place a pizza order with Dom or for Erica to schedule her monthly loan payment to Marcus. Oscar, Casper, Lucy, Otto, Lola, Dave, Clara, Lily, TED. The presumed strategy these young brands all share: introduce yourself to customers on a first name basis, and you’ll immediately be viewed as a more personable, approachable and trustworthy partner.

We attribute this trend to the broader, more fundamental shift underway. Through the power of data, corporations are engaging each customer in radically more personal ways.

For the value exchange to work, customers must trust a company enough to share that personal data, and brands are increasingly realizing that authenticity is key to building that trust. Selecting a human brand name is a potent shortcut, appealing to human familiarity as a heuristic for personal relationships. As put by the founder of the overdraft-dodging financial app, Dave, “We named the company Dave because we wanted people to think of the app as a friend they can turn to when they’re in a financial bind.”

While these names are powerful assets, humanizing the brands they define for the long term, they are also foundations on which deeper connection must be built though story and experience, culture and sustained innovation. This raises the key question facing the Toms, Dick’s and Harry’s of the world: What must a brand do to live up to the human authenticity of a human name?

Like a human, have a personal history. Marcus was introduced by Goldman Sachs as their foray into personal lending, a new consumer market for the company, where simplicity and personalized customer support are keys to success. Marcus also touts the 147 years of financial expertise the firm puts behind the product. That’s how long ago its namesake Marcus Goldman founded the company, and a return to his name makes the brand not only more personal, but also more authentic to its heritage. “Inspired by Marcus Goldman, we put our customers at the center of everything we do.” This brand focus can be felt through to every communication where the M: identity delivers messages straight from the expert source, backed with advocacy for each customer. Recently, Marcus announced it had reached $1 billion in lending and is on pace to double that by year’s end.

Like a human, be friendly. Oscar has proven a breath of fresh air in a category notorious for its complexity, opaque policies and impersonal communications. The health insurance company was named for the great-grandfather of co-founder Josh Kushner, who was inspired by an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) so complicated, he designed a business to “create the health care experience we want for ourselves and our loved ones.” Oscar’s new enhanced doctor profiles connect members to physicians on a more intimate level, providing photos, personal bios and a “Compatibility” section that makes each interaction more approachable. From the simplicity of plans to accessibility of service to the tone of voice and visual language used throughout every dimension of the experience, down to the URL,, Oscar might be the first insurance company you’d want to befriend.

Like a human, respect the unique differences of others. Each of Warby Parker’s frames bears a human name like Harper, Eliot or Otis, often drawing from literary characters like the Kerouac-inspired company name itself. These idiosyncratic names help to reflect the brand’s broader appreciation for the individuality of every customer. This carries through to their home trial feature that empathizes with the need to live with glasses a bit before buying, and the online quiz that suggests tailored recommendations with a human tone. A brand that forms truly personal connections is the opposite of one-size-fits-all.

Like a human, learn. Drawing from the human name within the word America, Bank of America is prepping the launch of a new smart assistant, Erica, planned to roll out through its mobile app later this year. The vision for Erica is far more than a bot who serves rote functions, but a personal advocate who learns from customers’ habits, gets to know their goals and helps them from a place of deeper understanding. By sensing a customer’s recurring payments, Erica can proactively send voice reminders to help them avoid fees. By learning about the important priorities in customers’ lives, Erica’s “dynamic insights” will aim to deliver more hyper-relevant financial guidance. While we might not anticipate that a big bank could understand us and guide us on an individual level, a personal connection with Erica helps to challenge that assumption.

As with many other naming trends, the first-name convention emerges from the broader context in which we interact with brands. The rise of the internet brought eTrade and iPhone. The .com real-estate grab: misspellings (Flickr and Digg) and trendy suffixes (Bitly, Napster). And as bots and AI continue to proliferate, human names are likely to reach their own saturation point.

Any brand considering this approach must consider the imminent future where customers interact with as many first-name brands as they have first-name friends. At what point does our circle of brand acquaintances become too many names to remember? Which human traits, good or bad, may be attributed to a human name? What do the cultural or gender associations of the name’s roots evoke for your customers?

The naming convention has a clear limit. But the opportunity to continue pushing experiences to a more approachable and authentic place is boundless. The question marketers must ask themselves is: How can we help customers feel comfortable interacting with us on a first-name basis?

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