Apple retains most-valuable brand crown as tech boom continues and TikTok soars

  • Brand Finance releases Global 500 list of the world’s most valuable brands
  • Apple leads tech charge, while media boasts top three fastest-growing brands
  • Retail adaptability has seen sector emerge from pandemic stronger

Apple remains the most valuable brand in the world, with record valuation at more than $355 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500.

Apple wrestled the most-valuable brand crown from Amazon last year. While the gap between the two closed a little through 2021, the tech giant retains top spot after a stellar two years of value growth. Apple was valued at $140.5 billion in 2020 – meaning it has increased 152% since then.

Apple’s place at the top should not come as a surprise. As we noted earlier this month in our analysis of the WTR Brand Elite indices, at the start of 2022 Apple became the first US company to reach $3 trillion market cap. While the iPhone still accounts for around half of the brand’s sales, the company has deepened its focus on diversification and devoted more attention to its other suite of products. Brand Finance points to a new generation of iPads, an overhaul to the iMac and the introduction of AirTags. Its range of services, from Apple Pay to Apple TV, has also gone from strength to strength. Its valuation also reflects the bolstering of its privacy and environmental credentials (eg, through the announcement that its manufacturing partners will be moving to 100% renewable energy as part of the company’s bid to reach carbon neutrality by 2030).

The company is set to continue this diversification, with the prospect of new products such as virtual reality and augmented reality headsets set to provide additional revenue lines. David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented: “Apple commands an amazing level of brand loyalty, largely thanks to its reputation for quality and innovation. Decades of hard work put into perfecting the brand have seen Apple become a cultural phenomenon, which allows it to not only compete, but thrive in a huge number of markets. With rumours abounding of its foray into electric vehicles and virtual reality, it seems it is ready for a new leap.”

It will make that leap from a position of strength.

Top 25 most valuable brands in the world

Position

Brand

Brand value

Year-on-year change

1

Apple

$355,080 million

35%

2

Amazon

$350,273 million

38%

3

Google

$263,425 million

38%

4

Microsoft

$184,285 million

31%

5

Walmart

$111,918 million

20%

6

Samsung

$107,284 million

5%

7

Facebook

$101,201 million

24%

8

ICBC

$75,119 million

3%

9

Huawei

$71,273 million

29%

10

Verizon

$69,639 million

1%

11

China Construction Bank

$65,546 million

10%

12

Toyota

$64,283 million

8%

13

WeChat

$62,303 million

-8%

14

Agricultural Bank of China

$62,031 million

17%

15

Mercedes-Benz

$60,760 million

4%

16

State Grid

$60,175 million

9%

17

Deutsche Telekom

$60,169 million

18%

18

TikTok/Douyin

$58,980 million

215%

19

Disney

$57,059 million

11%

20

Home Depot

$56,312 million

6%

21

Ping An

$54,354 million

0%

22

Taobao

$53,761 million

1%

23

Shell

$49,925 million

18%

24

Bank of China

$49,553 million

2%

25

Tmall

$49,182 million

0%

Across the Global 500, the tech sector remains the most valuable industry, with a cumulative brand value of close to $1.3 trillion. At the top of the rankings, Amazon joined Apple in crossing the $300 billion brand value mark, while Google jumped 38% to $263.4 billion. The report points to challenges early in the pandemic when ad spend dropped, but as online shopping became the norm, Google’s business rebounded strongly as the ‘go to’ search option. Meanwhile, Huawei reclaimed domestic technology companies and R&D, as well as turning its attention to cloud-based services. 

Sharing the headlines with Apple is TikTok, which broke into the top 20 after a staggering 215% jump in brand value – making it the fastest-growing brand last year. The rise was predicated on soaring popularity as people sought to connect during lockdowns and a number of canny strategic partnerships designed to broaden its user base beyond Gen Zers, including its sponsorship of UEFA Euro 2020.

Media brands account for the top three fastest-growing brands in this year’s ranking. “Media consumption has increased throughout the covid-19 pandemic, but – what is more – the way we consume it has irrevocably changed,” Haigh reflects. “In order to compete in this evolving marketplace, media organisations have invested heavily in their brands – from content acquisition through to user experience. TikTok’s meteoric growth is the proof in the pudding – the brand has gone from relative obscurity to internationally renowned in just a few years and shows no signs of slowing down.”

Top 10 fastest-growing brands

Position

Brand

Year-on-year increase

1

TikTok/Douyin

215%

2

Snapchat

184%

3

Kakao

161%

4

AMD

122%

5

BYD

100%

6

Nvidia

100%

7

Twitter

85%

8

AstraZeneca

77%

9

Coupang

72%

10

CDW

71%

In terms of other key trends across the Global 500, the retail sector has thrived during the pandemic, crossing the $1 trillion mark for the first time and trailing only the tech sector. Crucially, a number of traditionally bricks-and-mortar-focused brands have accelerated their digital transformation and capitalised on the boom in demand for e-commerce during the covid-19 era.

Walmart illustrates how this transition can pay off. It moved into the top five this year, following a 20% jump in brand value to $111.9 billion. Brand Finance notes that, while the company has long-boasted top-tier physical presence, at the start of the pandemic it invested in its e-commerce capabilities and is reaping the rewards.

Retail also contributed nine debut brands on the overall list, meaning that almost one in four new entrants have come from the sector. “The initial impression of lockdown may have been that retail would suffer, but those that have shown the agility to adapt and utilise technology have impressed with solid gains,” Haigh explains. “The transformation of the industry to meet its customers’ evolving needs has sown the seeds for both short and long-term prosperity.”

Another sector demonstrating growth was, perhaps unsurprisingly, pharmaceuticals. The pandemic directed the spotlight firmly at companies in the industry. As a result, pharmaceuticals has experienced faster growth over the past two years than any other sector.

Pharmaceutical brands that produced covid-19 vaccinations saw the biggest increases. Johnson & Johnson rose 24% to $13.4 billion. AstraZeneca is a new entrant to the ranking, having jumped 77% in brand value to $5.6 billion. And Pfizer’s value rose 58% to $6.3 billion. For Haigh, this opens up possibilities for the companies: “The production of effective vaccines has been integral to getting the global economy back on its feet. This has resulted in not only an increase in revenues, but also improved global awareness and reputation for brands in the pharmaceutical industry, which raises interesting questions about their potential applicability in adjacent sectors.”

The full 2022 Brand Finance report, which analyses over 5,000 of the biggest brands to create its list of the 500 most valuable, is available here.

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