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The world's strongest brands have proven their resilience to recession: When most key financial indicators plummeted last year, the value of the BrandZ* Top 100 brands, led by technology brands, rose 4% to more than $2 trillion, according to Millward Brown.

Tech brands took the top 4 spots on the 2010 BrandZ list of the 100 most valuable global brands:

  1. Google: $114 billion, up 14% from 2009
  2. IBM: $86 billion, up 30%
  3. Apple: $83 billion, up 32%
  4. Microsoft: $76 billion, up 0%

Among the top 10 companies, only three were non-tech brands: McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Marlboro.

Among 17 industry categories, just four registered positive growth in brand value this year:

  • Financial institutions posted the largest yearly gain in brand value, up 12% for the year, but that was after an 11% drop in 2008.
  • Technology grew 6% on the strength of both business and consumer spending.
  • Beer and fast food registered positive growth for the year, 10% and 1%, respectively.

The automotive category registered 15% losses in brand value, following a 22% decline in 2008, as consumers deferred major purchases.

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Other findings:

  • Social media: Facebook joined the technology sector rankings for the first year (No. 20 in technology ranking) with a brand value of $5.5 billion. The use of social media was a key trend across many of the successful brands this year, including HSBC's highly successful Expat Explorer online community.
  • BRICs join the list: The first Indian brand, ICICI, joined the Top 100 at number 45. This is the first year that all BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have been represented, with new entrants from China, Russia, and Brazil.
  • BrandZ outperforms S&P: Taking the BrandZ Top 100 as a portfolio and comparing it with the S&P 500 over the last five years reveals that $1,000 invested in the BrandZ Portfolio in 2006 would now be worth $1,185, compared with $885 for $1,000 invested in the S&P 500.
  • Strong brands bounce back: Brands such as Samsung, the highest riser (80% growth in brand value), and Starbucks (17%) imply that businesses with strong brands are able to recover from adversity faster.

View the full BrandZ list here.

*The BrandZ Top 100 ranking, based on financial data and research among 1.5 million consumer and B2B customers in 30 countries, is derived using a methodology called "Economic Use," via which value is calculated by looking at the role that brand plays in the purchase decision and identifying what proportion of the business value can be attributed purely to the brand. The ranking uses financial data from Bloomberg and market data from Datamonitor.

About the data: The BrandZ study, conducted annually by Millward Brown on behalf of the WPP, measures the brand equity of thousands of global "consumer facing" and business-to-business brands, and has interviewed over 1 million consumers globally.

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