Google replaces Apple as the 'world's most valuable brand' thanks to 'surprise and delight'

The company's ambitious projects gave them the edge over 'same-old' Apple

Google and Apple battle it out in the tech world every day, but it seems that Google may have taken the lead in terms of people’s perceptions.

In a study by an American market researcher the search giant was named the world’s most valuable brand, knocking Apple from the top spot after three years of iPhone-dominance.

The re-shuffle is echoed by a recent UK study suggesting that the company's retail stores have also fallen out of favour, thanks in part to the company's tendency to over-sell the helpfulness of their Genius Bar services.

Millward Brown, the agency that conducted the research into brand value, said that Google’s brand value had risen 40 per cent in a year to $158.84 billion (£94.24bn) while Apple’s fell by 20 per cent to $147.88 billion.

Of course the notion of ‘brand value’ is pretty murky, with Millward Brown claiming that it combines straightforward measures of financial success with more subjective metrics like consumers’ reactions to a company.

For Google the success is due to their ability to ‘surprise and delight’ the public. Speaking to Forbes, Millward Brown’s Oscar Yuan said that while Apple’s recent successes have been “more evolutionary than revolutionary,” Google has been ‘aggressively’ moving forward with projects ranging from self-driving cars, to providing Wi-Fi to the world using weather balloons.

“[This] does enormous things for the brand—it’s seen as a making-dreams-come-true-type company, and that certainly helps their brand value,” said Yuan.

“Google continues to deliver on bringing to consumers and the business world things they’ve never seen before and things they’ve never imagined were possible. That shows in their brand value,” he added.

In Millward Brown’s rankings the top 100 brands were dominated by North American countries, making up half of the list, and occupying all of the top ten spots. After Google and Apple, the company ranked IBM, Microsoft, McDonalds and Coca-Cola as having the next most valuable brands.

From the UK competitors mobile operator Vodafone was ranked highest (#20) followed by HSBC (#28) and Shell (#53). Overall it was technology companies that generated the most ‘brand value’ ($841,482m of the total list) followed by telecoms firms ($330,427m) and retailers ($280,975m).