, , , ,

Which brand is worth more, IBM or Apple? Well, no one is really sure, so the answer really depends on whom you ask!

Two prominent corporate valuation services—Brand Z and CoreBrand—offer wildly varying brand rankings. According to the most current Brand Z ranking, released by Millward Brown, IBM is worth more than Google and second to Apple. But CoreBrand’s reports indicates that the value of IBM’s brand fell drastically last year, moving it to number 66 on the list, while Apple sits in 33rd place.

The Marketing Accountability Standards Board has decried the discrepancies in these brand valuations, which makes it difficult to set a standard and have a reasonable discussion about what brand value means. This Board in turn is attempting to enforce some commonalities across the valuators. In response, executives at CoreBrand and Millward Brown have offered fuller explanations of how and why their valuation processes differ.

CoreBrand surveys at least 10,000 top managers (i.e., corporate vice presidents or higher) yearly. But each executive is asked to evaluate fewer than 40 brands at a time to avoid a sense of burn out or boredom with the task. The CEO of CoreBrand also acknowledged that its methods do not integrate various survey methodologies or account for publicly available financial information about the companies on the brand value list. Yet he also defended his company’s ranking of IMB, noting that it has been slipping since it exited the consumer PC business in 2004. At the same time, he defended his ranking of Avon at number 41, saying that people still feel good about the cosmetics firm.

The CEO of Millward Brown clarified that the Brand Z system uses consumer surveys and analyses of public financial data to rank companies. According to Brand Z, developing market brands collectively declined 1.7 percent last year, due to the declines in their stock markets. Bank brands similarly suffered, while credit card companies enjoyed significant increases in their brand value, Brand Z listed Walmart’s brand as more valuable than Amazon.

Brand Z also noted some significant changes that reflected modern social trends. Brands with women on their corporate boards saw their values rise by an average of 66 percent. And a South African company entered the list at number 88—a first for any African nation. Of course, Facebook’s brand value rose 74 percent last year.

In the end then it might not matter which method they use. If it keeps on its path, Facebook might just become the unquestionable winner.

Discussion Question

1. Why is the ranking of brand value important?

source: Jeff Neff, “Brand Z Study: IBM Leapfrogs Google as No. 2 Global Brand,” Advertising Age, May 21, 2012.