Apple Ranked World's Most Valuable Brand...Again

MoneyGuess which company owns the world's most valuable brand? Yawn. It's Apple. Again. For the third year in a row, according to Brand Finance. No one other company comes close.

"Apple also has a powerful brand, rated AAA by Brand Finance," Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said in a statement. "What sets it apart is its ability to monetize that brand. For example, though tablets were in use before the iPad, it was the application of the Apple brand to the concept that captured the public imagination and allowed it to take off as a commercial reality."

In Brand Finance's Global 500 2014, Apple's brand was valued at US$104.7 billion, a sharp increase from $87.3 billion in 2013. In its perpetual role of Ms. Runner Up, Samsung is still the world's second most valuable brand with a value of $78.8 billion. That was also a sharp increase from the $58.8 billion in last year's ranking.

Google remained the third most valuable brand at $68.6 billion, up from $52.1 billion, and Microsoft is still #4, with a brand value of $62.8 billion. That's up from $45 billion a year ago.

Rounding out the top ten were Verizon, GE, AT&T, Amazon, Walmart, and IBM.

What makes Apple's #1 ranking so remarkable is that we're talking about a company with a handful of products: four Mac lines, three iPhone models, two iPad lines, four iPods, Apple TV, three AirPort base stations, iTunes, the App Store, a handful of software products, and a few accessories. It is an extremely narrow product line for a company with so much success.

Samsung, on the other hand, has three or four times as many phone lines as Apple has products, but the company also makes washers, dryers, dishwashers, fridges, ovens, micowaves, toasters, blenders, juicers, food processors, mixers, dough machines, rice cookers, cars, numerous tablets, PCs, laptops, TVs, processors, and a joke of a "smartwatch."

All those hundreds and hundreds of products, and many hundreds of millions of dollars spent advertising just its smartphones, and the company plays a distant second fiddle to Apple.

Google is also a company with a narrow product line, but its search engine is used by most of the Western world and much of Asia, too. On the other hand, Google does little to advertise the "Google" brand, and that makes its brand valuation of $68.6 billion quite impressive.

Then there's poor ol' Microsoft, a company that was once the poster child for success. Microsoft's software is used by billions of people on a daily basis—far more than the number of people who use an Apple device, and yet the company's brand is worth 60 percent of Apple's.

It's fascinating.