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Apple's no longer the world's biggest brand—but who is?

Google has leapfrogged over Apple to take the top spot in a global ranking measuring the value of the world's biggest brands.

Google saw a 40 percent year-on-year increase and is now worth to $159 billion, putting it atop Brown Optimor's annual BrandZ list of the 100 most-valuable global brands, commissioned by WPP. The study calculates brand value by looking at its potential and current buyers alongside financial data.

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Georges Gobet | AFP | Getty Images

"Google has been hugely innovative in the last year with Google Glass, investments in artificial intelligence and a multitude of partnerships that see its Android operating system becoming embedded in other goods such as cars," Millward Brown Optimor managing director Nick Cooper said in a statement.

Apple was knocked from the top after a three-year reign, after its brand's value fell 20 percent to $148 billion. The report said a perception that the Silicon Valley giant no longer redefines technology for its customers, as evidenced by a lack of new product launches, was behind the dip.

Still, the fact Google and Apple took first and second place reflects technology brands' growing dominance.

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Tech accounted for the top 4 spots, with IBM and Microsoft ranked third and fourth, respectively.

And all together, technology brands were worth the most for the year, at $841.5 billion compared with telecoms at $330 billion and retail with $280 billion.

They trumped regional banks ($251 billion), global banks ($124 billion) and personal banks ($111.5 billion), whose brands recovered after the fallout from the global financial crisis.

The top 100 had a combined value of $2.9 trillion, increasing by 49 percent since 2008. The resurgence is a reflection of global growth that followed the end of the 2007 financial crisis.

"This year's index highlights the end of the recession, with a strong recovery in valuations and, for the first time, real growth across every category and the Top 100 as a whole," David Roth, CEO of The Store, WPP said in a statement.

Continental Europe saw the biggest increase in brand value, and its top 10 valuable brands soared 19 percent. The increase was a reflection of improved outlook for a number of euro zone countries, which had previously been crunched during the region's debt crisis.

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In contrast, emerging markets brands struggled, as China's slowing growth and economic weakness in Latin America hurt brand value.

Asia's banks saw their brand values decline, reflecting concerns over China's economy. However, this was offset by the impressive growth of two Chinese technology brands, social network and Internet portal Tencent and search engine Baidu.

Latin America slipped further after suffering a 13 percent decline a year ago. Two Brazillian brands—oil and gas company Petrobas and personal care company Natura—saw steep declines.

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