Google has dislodged Apple as the world's most valuable brand, according to research, reflecting a wider transfer of power between product and services-focused tech firms.
According to Millward Brown's BrandZ report, Google's brand value has risen 40 per cent year on year to $159bn (£94bn), thanks in part to its push into new areas such as Google Glass (below) and artificial intelligence.
Google wrested the top spot from Apple, which lost the crown it had held for three years, following a 20 per cent crash in its brand value to $148bn.
Technology brands dominated the rankings, which were based on combining the financial value of a brand with its "brand contribution" based on interviews with two million consumers in more than 30 countries.
Microsoft moved up several places following a 29 per cent brand value hike, meaning the top four brands – Google, Apple, IBM and Microsoft – were all tech firms. In fact, a fifth of the top 100 hailed from the tech space.
But while technology services firms thrived, those focused on products struggled, with the top 20 in each category seeing their brand value increase by an average of 40 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
Hardware players Samsung and HP grew just 21 and 19 per cent respectively, while Sony shrank one per cent. In contrast, Chinese internet services brand Tencent grew 97 per cent, with Facebook up 68 per cent. Twitter and LinkedIn were also new entrants into the BrandZ Top 100.
"Digital service brands such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tencent and LinkedIn are now more than just tools, they have become part of our lives," said Peter Walshe, global BrandZ director at Millward Brown.
"They offer new forms of communication that absorb people's attention and imagination, while also helping them organise the rest of their lives at the same time. To gain more of our mind-space brands such as Google are making ambitious plays across existing category boundaries."
The most effective brands tend to be "meaningful", "different" and "salient" in the eyes of consumers, the research house said. More information about Millward Brown's methodology can be found here.
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