Google toppled Apple in brand valuation while Texas airlines see growth

Apple Computer

Google has toppled Apple in Brand Finance’s annual ranking of America’s most valuable brands. That ends Apple’s five-year run at the top.

Apple has seen nearly $40 billion wiped off its brand value, according to the brand consultancy. Apple has over-exploited the goodwill of its customers by failing to maintain its technological advantage and delivering tweaks to existing products rather than genuine innovation, according to Brand Finance. The technology company’s brand value has fallen 27 percent since early 2016 to $107 billion, meaning that for the first time in over five years, America (and the World) has a new most valuable brand.

Six years after it last held the title in 2011, Google is now the world’s most valuable brand with a value of $109 billion. Google remains largely unchallenged in its core search business, the mainstay of its advertising income. However, as Brand Finance CEO David Haigh notes, “the recent controversy over Google’s placement of customers’ ads alongside undesirable content illustrates that even companies with apparently dominant market positions must be conscious of the risks to their most valuable asset, their brand.”

Texas had 48 brands in Brand Finance’s 2017 list of most valuable brands, accounting for 8.4 percent of the total value of America’s top 500 brands and making Texas the third most valuable state behind California and New York.

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Southwest Airlines and American Airlines both had liftoff years. The brand value of Southwest Airlines rose by 63 percent to $6 billion, while American Airlines brand value rose by 59 percent to $9.8 billion. In the process, Fort Worth-based American Airlines has overtaken Emirates to become the world’s most valuable airline brand.

ExxonMobil and its portfolio of brands was one of many of the oil & gas brands represented in the list. ExxonMobil itself ranked No. 28, but the company’s various other brands also scored well. Schlumberger ranked as the second most valuable oil & gas brand in Texas and grew by 31 percent in brand value to $6.8 billion, benefiting from a recovery in the price of oil.

Dallas-based AT&T, Texas’ most valuable brand, overtook Verizon to become the world’s most valuable telecoms brand. Its geographical and acquisitive growth in South America and Mexico helped put a growth in brand value of 45 percent to $87 billion.

National Results

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At the national level, America’s brands continue to reach new heights. The total value of America’s top 500 brands now exceeds $3 trillion dollars, having increased 11 percent from $2.82 trillion in 2016 to $3.14 trillion this year. And who knows value of brand better than the current occupant of the White House.

“President Trump, an experienced brand builder himself, appears to have fostered a conducive environment for continued brand value growth,” said. Brand Finance CEO David Haigh/

“However his longer term approach and objectives remain hard to pin down and 2017 could deliver as many if not more shocks than 2016.”

California remains America’s most valuable state by brand value. Its dominance in tech (the most valuable and fastest growing sector in terms of brand value) has enabled California to pull well ahead of the rest. Of the country’s top 500 brands, 71 hail from the Golden State, with a total value of $725 billion.

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New York is in second place, but despite have just one less brand in the top 500 than California, New York’s total brand value is significantly lower, at $481 billion. Finance comprises a large share of New York’s total brand value so New York has therefore been disproportionately affected by the stalling values of financial services brands.

The increasing concentration of brand value in tech also helps to explain Washington State’s strong performance. Washington has just 11 brands (16 states have more) yet as the home of tech titans Microsoft and Amazon, Washington ranks 4th with a total brand value of $242 billion.

Amazon is growing strongly (brand value is up 53 percent year on year) as it continues to both reshape the retail market and to capture an ever larger share of it. With a brand value only fractionally behind Apple and Google already, Amazon could easily become the most valuable brand in the U.S. and the rest of the world in 2018.

Coca-Cola’s brand value was $43.1bn in 2007, making it the most valuable brand in America and the wider world. Today however, its brand value stands at just $31.8bn, putting it 16th in the US and 27th internationally. Increasing concerns over the links between carbonated drinks and obesity have begun to undermine what the Coca-Cola brand has represented for over one hundred years. Pepsi is similarly suffering, falling 4% to $18.3 billion.

The same trend is evident in the fast food industry. The brand values of McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway and Domino’s have all fallen due to heavy competition in an increasingly fragmented market, with healthier challenger brands offering greater choice for consumers.

Only a handful of states have seen their number one brand change this year. Google’s defeat of Apple is perhaps the most striking case, though some other iconic brands have lost their local flagship status. For example, KFC is no longer Kentucky’s most valuable brand. It been hit by the turn away from less healthy fast-food operators and has seen its brand value fall 27 percent to $6.2 billion. As if to illustrate a growing focus on health, Humana is Kentucky’s new most valuable brand. The Health Insurance business’s brand is now valued at $7.1 billion, supported by continued customer acquisition, revenue growth and improving brand strength.

Meanwhile Harley-Davidson has lost its position as Wisconsin’s most valuable brand. In 2016 Harley was in the elite group of AAA+ rated brands and had a brand value of over $5 billion. However, this value has dropped 38 percent and Harley has been passed in the brand value passing lane by both Fiserv and Kohl’s. The latter now leads Wisconsin’s seven brands with a value of $4.9 billion.

The number of states with brands in the country’s top 500 has remained constant at 37, however Arizona has dropped out, to be replaced by Mississippi. The Magnolia state’s Sanderson Farms makes its debut in the Brand Finance US 500 at 469th with a value of $1.3 billion.

To see the full list of brand values: