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Top brands: 2017

We all know surveys are nowadays pretty meaningless; all a company needs to do is send out a questionnaire to all its followers on social media and 24 hours later they have a survey, consisting essentially of the opinions of under-employed, media-obsessed idiots. These can then be sent to newspapers who, having sacked most of their proper journalists, will use as the basis of an article. It’s PR morphing into journalism and is shameful.

That said, sometimes it is worth taking a look at some of these surveys to see if their biased snapshots actually make any sense.

Brand Finance produce an annual Global 500 ranking list, ostensibly showing the world’s most valuable brands. This year’s reveals that Google has overtaken Apple as the world’s most valuable brand, for the first time in five years.

Apple’s brand value has dropped 27% in the last 12 months, according to their analysis and Brand Finance also found Lego to be the world’s most powerful brand.

The yearly Global 500 rankings, which calculate the most valuable and powerful brands across the globe, found that Google’s brand value rose by 24% to $109.5bn (£87bn) last year, with Apple’s dropping to $107bn amid concern that people are losing faith in the technology giant’s ability to innovate.

“There are probably 50 or 60 analysts that follow Apple,” said David Haigh, the CEO of Brand Finance. “Some are very bullish, some are very pessimistic. What drives our valuation is consensus. We are reflecting what the market says and the market consensus is that the prospects of future turnover are worse than they were last year or the year before.”

Google, meanwhile, rocketed back to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2011, as advertising revenues increased 20% in 2016. Its core search business continues to dominate, while the research found that it is finding more lucrative revenue streams as budgets are increasingly directed online.

The rankings evaluate individual brands, not overarching companies, making Google’s position at the summit doubly impressive, as it is just one of the Alphabet brands.

In third place was Amazon, while Facebook moved up from 17th last year to ninth. The highest ranked British brand is Vodafone, which came in at 50th, 20 places down from the previous year.

Brand Finance analyses factors such as brand loyalty, familiarity, corporate reputation and marketing investment in creating the Global 500, and it also evaluates which brands are the most powerful.

This year’s most powerful brand is Lego, with last year’s leader, Walt Disney, falling five places. Lego has been boosted by The Lego Batman Movie, while digital innovations such as its new Lego Life social network have helped to broaden it into more of a shared pursuit.

Disney’s ranking was hurt by the fact many of its biggest films last year were the work of sub-brands, such as Star Wars: Rogue One, which was produced by Lucasfilm, and Finding Dory, which was produced by Pixar.

Global fast food outlets McDonald’s, KFC and Domino’s Pizza continue to drop down the rankings of the world’s most valuable brands, with McDonald’s falling from 12th to 16th as it continues to be hit by associations with unhealthy eating.

“Increasingly, there is a view that you can’t just have homogenous brands everywhere,” said Mr Haigh. “If you take someone like McDonald’s, they do actually vary their menu quite significantly from country to country. It’s fair to say that monolithic brands are fragmenting.”

There is also a growing dissatisfaction across the globe with American brands, said Mr Haigh, who added that the election of Donald Trump could impact a company’s international standing.

“There was a period when American brands were considered to be very aspirational. Gradually goodwill towards American brands has been eroded,” he said.

“One of the interesting dimensions at the moment is the extent to which Trumpism is actually going to accelerate this negative view about American brands.”

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