As Google, Apple scrap for No. 1, ranks of world‘s 500 most valuable brands reveal winners, losers

The domineering value of the Apple brand on the global business scene faded just enough for Google to replace the make of the ubiquitous iPhone as the world‘s most valuable brand for the first time since 2011. So says Brand Finance‘s "Global Brand 2017" ranking of the 500 most valuable brands in the world.

"Apple‘s evangelists are beginning to lose their faith," Brand Finance says in its new report. "The snaking queues of early adopters have shrunk almost to the point of invisibility" — a sign that suggests Apple is coasting more than it should to remain at the pinnacle of tech innovation and design. (Of course, this report was written before Apple‘s boffo quarterly earnings last week, driven by huge iPhone 7 sales.)

As the world‘s dominant search engine, Google‘s brand value rose in the global brand analysis a whopping 24 percent during 2016 from $88.2 billion to 109.4 billion. Apple‘s declined 27 percent from $145.9 billion to $107.1 billion, the report estimated, edging out Apple by a mere $2.3 billion in value.

Who follows Google and Apple? More tech firms: Amazon, AT&T and Microsoft at Nos. 3, 4 and 5.

Google vs. Apple? Apple vs. Google? It sounds like an updated version of Coke vs. Pepsi, or Home Depot vs. Lowes.

What‘s most striking in the Global 500 ranking is identifying the fastest rising brands, along with those most in freefall, because they represent the changing world of technology and consumer tastes. Here are some examples:

• A decade ago, Coca-Cola was the world‘s most valuable brand, period. But growing criticism over the links between carbonated drinks and obesity have undercut what the Coca-Cola brand has represented for a century.

• Ditto fast food brands. The values of such brands as McDonald‘s, KFC, Subway and Domino‘s have all fallen in the face of growing competition from brands offering healthier consumer choices.

• American Airlines deposed Emirates as the No. 1 airline brand in the world. Why? One big reason is fewer people need to fly to places served by Emirates because the price of oil is way down and the Middle East has lost some of its clout.

• The top 10 global brands by value are made up of eight U.S. companies, plus one South Korean brand (Samsung at No. 7) and Chinese bank ICBC at No. 10.

• Facebook‘s brand value bumped the company to No. 9 from No. 17 last year, a red-hot 82 percent gain in value in just one year. It‘s a good bet Facebook is heading to the top in the coming years — barring as-yet-unseen competition.

• In one sign of tougher foreign competition ahead, other corporate brands experiencing huge leaps in value in the rankings include Alibaba, China‘s online e-commerce company, rising 94 percent to No. 23. Another Chinese tech company, Tencent, saw its brand value rise 124 percent to No. 47. South Korean conglomerate SK Group‘s value rose 126 percent to No. 62.

• Even a brand based in Florida made the Global 500. Publix Super Markets ranked at No. 279, down 51 spots from No. 228 in the prior year.

• Finally, hovering near the bottom of the Global 500 in brand value are some interesting newcomers to the list. They range from QVC at No. 420 and HBO at No. 455 to Airbnb at No. 474 and, at No. 500, Christian Dior.