Toyota tops ranking as world's best-known Japanese brand

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Toyota Motor Corp. remains Japan's most valuable and widely recognized global brand for 2010, according to a new report by Interbrand, the world's leading brand consultancy, although a surge in interest in exercise has propelled two sporting equipment makers into this year's Top 30 names.

The worldwide boom in marathons has helped Asics - the Kobe-based shoe company - raise its brand value by 11 percent and helped the company climb from 26th place on the list to 22nd. More people are also recognizing the Asics name and logo since the company launched a global brand strategy and opened flagship stores in London and New York.

Shimano, which boasts 80 percent of the global market for competition and sport cycling drivetrain components, has also lifted its profile by establishing a reputation in road racing, particularly in the coveted European markets.

The company joins the top 30 for Interbrand's second annual report on the global value of Japanese brands, which is calculated by determining a company's financial strength, its ability to drive a consumer's selection and the likelihood of ongoing branded revenue. Companies are also required to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and sales outside Japan must account for 30 percent or more of total sales.

Interbrand has used the same criteria to rank the world's top 100 brands every year since 1999, with Coca-Cola, IBM and Microsoft presently occupying the top three spots in that ranking.

And most Japanese brands did not fare as well as their international counterparts, Interbrand points out.

"The global recession triggered by the global financial crisis has had a major impact on Japan's global brands," Interbrand said in a statement. "Most fell in value, including 24 of those ranked among this year's top 30. Total value for the top 30 also declined by 2 percent.

"This poor showing by Japan's global brands stands out against the results of the Best Global Brands 2009, of which only 16 of the top 30 fell in value," it added."

The top 10 firms were dominated by Japan's automobile and electronics sectors - behind Toyota came Honda, Sony, Canon, Nintendo, Panasonic, Lexus, Nissan, Toshiba and Sharp - while Interbrand indicated that several other companies that failed to meet the criteria this year, particularly because of their relatively low international profile, are likely to rectify that in the near future.

Consumers around the world are going to be hearing a lot more about cut-price clothing chain Uniqlo, financial services company Nomura and Internet service brand Rakuten.

Most globally recognized Japanese brands in descending order:

 - Toyota
 - Honda
 - Sony
 - Canon
 - Nintendo
 - Panasonic
 - Lexus
 - Nissan
 - Toshiba
 - Sharp
 - Shiseido
 - Komatsu
 - Nikon
 - Suzuki

 - Ricoh
 - Olympus
 - Daikin
 - Mitsubishi Electric
 - Bridgestone
 - Yamaha
 - Konica Minolta
 - Asics
 - Fujitsu
- Hitachi
 - Mazda
 - Shimano
 - Casio
 - Epson
 - Kikkoman