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Good branding identifies a company's goods and services, setting it apart from the competition. Most Americans easily recognize Apple's apple, Nike's swoosh, and McDonald's (MCD) golden arches.

Though branding itself is a somewhat intangible asset, most companies know its inherent value, investing large amounts of money in the design, launch, and ongoing promotion of their brands. That's why assigning a value to a brand might have certain appeal.

Brand Finance, a business valuation and strategy consultancy, calculates the value of brands by estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to it. This is done by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, and arriving at a "brand value" -- a net economic benefit that would be achieved by licensing the brand in the open market.

According to Brand Finance's annual report on the 500 most valuable brands in the world, technology brands claim the top five spots (Amazon, Apple, (AAPL) Google, (GOOG) Samsung and Facebook. (FB) ) This indicates a wider global trend, as dominance of digital is set to grow even more in the coming years.

Several U.S. brands dropped in value from last year, while many from China, Germany and Japan rose in the rankings.

Based on Brand Finance's report, Global 500 2018, these are the 30 most valuable brands by country.