Apple re-crowned world's top brand—but watch Alibaba, Facebook

Apple has reclaimed its crown as the world's most valuable brand, worth a staggering $247 billion, according to WPP and Millward Brown.

The tech behemoth triumphed in the advertising agencies' annual top 100 most valuable global brands report, published on Wednesday. The report ranked brand value by looking at views of potential and current buyers of a brand, plus financial data.

"Apple is clear on what it stands for, and never stops refreshing its message to sustain the difference that makes it so desirable," said Doreen Wang, Millward Brown's global head of BrandZ, in the report.

Despite the popularity of the Apple Watch, Wang and colleagues said that the iPhone 6 was the main driver of Apple's 67 percent year-on-year jump in brand value.


Customers look at the Apple Watch in Hangzhou, China.
Getty Images
Customers look at the Apple Watch in Hangzhou, China.

"Apple continues to 'own' its category by innovating and leading the curve in a way that generates real benefits for consumers," said Wang.

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Apple's success pushed Google back into second place, with its brand value growing 9 percent over the year to $174 billion.

Facebook was the fastest-growing brand, achieving 99 percent growth due to its success in acquiring and integrating other platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

West to East shift

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba made its first appearance in the BrandZ rankings, with its brand worth $66 billion. This put it above Amazon, the next most valuable retail brand, and Walmart.

Interestingly, the world's two most valuable retail brands both lack physical stores.

"Europe's brand powerhouses stagnate as Chinese brands grow and U.S. brands make a comeback," said the BrandZ report.

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This year, 14 Chinese brands ranked in the top 100, up from just one in 2006. Most of the brands that were pushed out the rankings were from Europe, said the BrandZ report, with just 24 European brands remaining.