Apple tops BrandZ 100 Most Valuable US Brands list

19 November 2018 5 min. read

According to Kantar Millward Brown’s second annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable US Brands ranking, Apple has grabbed the top spot, increasing its brand value by more than 13% and relegating Google to second. Meanwhile, Netflix had the fastest growing value (at 93%), while Uber (#35) was the most valuable new entrant to the top 100.

The BrandZ study annually ranks the most valuable US brands, while also identifying the key forces driving brand equity in a complex and changing market. Performed by research and marketing consultancy Kantar Millward Brown – a WPP company – the study draws on a database of over 650,000 consumers across 23,000 brands and 31 countries.

Two factors that have especially informed the ranking this year are the importance of being viewed as an innovative brand, as well as having a strong customer experience. According to the report, as customers engage with companies in more and more places, the brands that innovate their customer experience can see even greater gains. Kantar relates that the brands in the top 100 that delivered the strongest experience grew their brand value by 257% in 12 years, while those with low experience scores increased their value by 50% in that time.

The report notes: “Brand experience starts long before a person considers buying a product and lasts well beyond the point of purchase. It includes every exposure to an ad, every digital interaction, and every minute someone spends waiting for help at a counter or on the phone—as well as actual usage of the item purchased. As a result, brand experience cements (or destroys) the relationship between brands and their customers.”Top brands in the US Top 100 for InnovationThe other leading factor driving meaningful difference and brand value is innovation. Brands that are viewed as doing new things or setting trends are more likely to get discussed and tried out. Today, though, innovation can mean removing pain points in the buying process, improving quality, and redefining or expanding into new categories. As such, the blurry, overlapping edges of the innovation category means that it is highly correlated with customer experience.

Indeed, 8 of the top 10 brands for innovation and brand experience were the same. Like experience, innovation created a strong disposition for sales, with the BrandZ study finding that those with high scores for perceived innovation grew in value by 273% in the last 12 years, versus 36% growth for the slowest innovators.

The value of innovation and brand experience is demonstrated in the strong ascent of Uber, which was the most valuable newcomer to the list, entering at no. 35 at a value of $21.1 billion. The ride hailing service, which is known for its easy and convenient experience, ranked #1 in both innovation and experience. The fact that it has so completely upended the taxi category, while also revolutionizing delivery services, makes it unsurprising that it led in perceived innovation.

Meanwhile, Apple – which ranked in the top five for brand experience and innovation – topped the BrandZ ranking, growing by 13% to reach $316.1 billion in brand value. According to the study, Apple’s continued innovation across the services (iCloud, Siri, Apple Pay) which surround its devices (Apple Watch, iPhone, Macbook) means that it continues to create a compelling and meaningful user experience.

Google grew its brand value by 9%, reaching $313.3 billion, but ultimately falling to second while failing to rank in the top 10 for brand experience or innovation. Amazon, on the other hand, stayed in third place – though it made up huge ground on Apple and Google – reaching a value of $279.3 billion on the back of 69% growth.Brandz Top 10 most valuble brandsAmazon ranked second in innovation, likely due to the runaway success of its Echo smart speakers and its expansion into the Internet of Things space, as well as its nascent forays in new areas for disruption – namely, banking and healthcare. The company, which is well-noted for its customer-centric business practices and responsive customer service, ranked fifth in brand experience.

Rounding out the top 5 was Microsoft at no. 4 with $215.5 billion in brand value (39% growth) and Visa at no. 5 with $163.9 billion in brand value (35% growth). Facebook placed just outside the top 5, reaching $161.1 billion on more modest 7% growth – perhaps impacted by the string of scandals surrounding data breaches, privacy, and use of customer data.

Streaming service Netflix grew its value more than any other brand in the ranking, growing by 93% since last year to reach $30.2 billion and no. 28. Benefiting from (and, in part, driving) the growing adoption of streaming, the company has continued to personalize its service with original and exclusive content, making it the second most valuable entertainment brand after Disney. Other strong growers included PayPal, which grew 88% to reach no. 19, and Amazon, which grew 69%.

“Innovative companies such as Netflix and Uber are disrupting markets and creating new ones, while larger brands like Apple continue to shake things up with data, digital and marketing technology investments to maintain leadership in the new era of consumer experience,” commented Tim Wragg, CEO Kantar North America Insights Division. “This year’s ranking shows that while US brands are amongst the most innovative in the world, innovation alone is no longer enough for brands to grow.”

Beth Ann Kaminkow, CEO of Kantar Consulting Brand & Marketing Americas, added, “Customer experience is now the greatest amplifier of value growth. However, US brands are lagging other countries in delivering on consumers’ expectations and letting them experience their innovation. They will need to focus on improving consumers’ experience of their brand in 2019 by breaking down internal silos and uniting marketing and sales to design holistically across all channels and touchpoints, for experience and commerce.”