Top Stories
Top Stories
Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Brand rankings show promise, challenge for automakers

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

In an industry where customer perception often seems to be the most important thing, automakers can look at the latest ranking of top global brands by Interbrand and see the glass as half full and half empty.

With 13 car brands ranked among the top 100, the auto industry once again heavily influences the top brands list. Furthermore, the brand values for nine automakers posted double-digit gains compared with last year.

In short, the perception of various auto brands is rising. And that's not surprising given the surge in auto sales, vehicle quality and customer satisfaction with the models they are buying.

(Read more: Apple leaves Coke flat in global top brand survey)

Interbrand auto brand rankings

Of the top 100 corporate brands ranked by Interbrand, 13 are auto brands:

No. 10 Toyota

No. 11 Mercedes-Benz

No. 12 BMW

No. 20 Honda

No. 34 Volkswagen

No. 42 Ford

No. 43 Hyundai

No. 51 Audi

No. 64 Porsche

No. 65 Nissan

No. 83 Kia

No. 89 Chevrolet

No. 98 Ferrari

(Read more: Made in the USA: Toyota increasing exports from Mississippi)

Toyota exporting 'Made in the USA' vehicles

Chevy's debut

For some, it may seem strange to see Chevrolet at No. 89 making its debut on the Interbrand Top 100 Brand List. After all, Chevy is an iconic brand with a long and well-known history. However, it's important to remember, General Motors didn't start pushing Chevy as a global brand until a little more than a decade ago.

In many parts of the world, Chevy is not as well-known as Ford, Volkswagen or other mass-market auto brands that have been marketed and sold worldwide for a longer period of time.

The fact the Chevy has cracked the top 100 brands is a testament to the success of GM's global marketing and distribution strategy. I expect Chevy to move up this list in the future as GM puts even more emphasis on the brand.

Porsche, Nissan surge

Porsche and Nissan posted the biggest gains in brand value, according to Interbrand.

The brand value at Porsche jumped 26 percent in the last year, while Nissan was up 25 percent.

How did the two automakers do it?

Both benefited from greater marketing and improved brand positioning.

Porsche has long been an established brand with consumers seeing it as one of the top luxury auto brands. In recent years, Porsche executives have built on that stellar reputation by expanding the brand to a broader set of buyers with new models like the Panamera.

Nissan is benefiting from a combination of stronger sales and the brand embracing electric vehicle development with the LEAF model.

While the LEAF electric car has not sold in the numbers the company initially predicted, it is putting a green halo on the Nissan brand.

Toyota, BMW, Mercedes master brand perception

Seeing Toyota, Mercedes and BMW as the three top-ranked auto brands by Interbrand should not be a surprise. These companies have all been on target marketing and growing their brands during the last year.

I'm often asked by people why Toyota has bounced back so convincingly from the recall scandals from a few years ago. Credit CEO Akio Toyoda with getting his company to wake up and realize it had been on corporate cruise control for too many years. Toyoda shook up the leadership ranks and forced Toyota to realize it needs to get back to its core strength of building quality cars, trucks and SUVs.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

Questions? Comments?