The Best Brands in the World

People will argue forever about whether they prefer Coke or Pepsi, but they surely won’t choose the random generic cola a little ways down the shopping aisle. Not every business is a brand, and not every brand does good business, but one lesson apparent in Millward Brown Optimor’s fifth annual BrandZ ranking of the world’s most valuable brands is that brand strength is a good indicator of financial success.

After hitting the iceberg of the banking collapse, business was bad for pretty much everyone last year — with the exception of tech companies, a category that saw net growth in brand value. But the strength of the companies in this ranking lies in something more ephemeral. While the bottom line will always be the bottom line, the customer loyalty and public presence of the world’s strongest brands make them much better placed to respond to both economic and public relations setbacks than their more low-profile competitors.

And PR problems have come hard and fast in 2010, including for some at the top of the rankings. They will hope that the strength of their brands weathers the storm, but the list may look significantly different in 12 months.

When assigning brand value, Millward Brown Optimor uses a methodology that takes into account revenue, customer relations, and growth potential. It’s not only about the number of customers (Chinese and Indian firms would definitely have an unfair advantage there) or the revenues of the biggest companies; it’s about the overall picture of how good a brand is at meeting the needs of its customers and at maintaining its public image.

Most people would have heard about most of the companies on this list, where the absences are just as notable as the inclusions. Multinational giants like Nike, Mastercard, or Starbucks are in the top 100, but far indeed from Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, both in the top 10.

We will look first at the top 10 global brands cited in the report, followed by 10 “best in class” brands to give a little taste of the best beer brand, car brand, retailer brand, etc. The numbers reflect Millard Brown Optimor’s brand valuation, and the percent change from last year’s report.

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