World's top three brands are now: Google, Apple, Microsoft

World's top three brands are now: Google, Apple, Microsoft
Brand value is a pretty important thing, and something that is pretty difficult to calculate, but Brand Finance, a London-based company, wants to do just that. The company uses a number of metrics including cashflow in order to put a value on a company's trademark and other intellectual property. And, according to those numbers, Apple is now the number 2 most valuable brand in the world, behind Google and just ahead of Microsoft.

To be clear, this is designed to value a company's brand, and shouldn't be confused with S&P's company valuations based on stock, which has had Apple and Exxon trading the top spot. As far as brand value though, Apple has been surging, jumping from a $19.8 billion brand valuation in 2010, to a $29.5 billion valuation in January 2011, and as of September 2011 stood at $39.3 billion. That valuation is enough to move Apple up from #7 on the list to #2, just ahead of Microsoft, which is valued at $39 billion. Microsoft has slipped from the start of the year, when it was valued at $42.8 billion. But, even with that big jump by Apple, it wasn't enough to unseat the champion: Google. Google started out the year with a brand valuation of $44.3 billion and has continued to climb to an amazing $48.3 billion. 

Of course, these numbers are in debate as you'd expect from something as tricky as valuating a brand. A competing company, BrandZ, claimed back in May that Apple had taken over the top spot with a brand valuation of $153.3 billion compared to Google's $111.5 billion. BrandZ uses approximately 2 million customer surveys in determining its rankings, while Brand Finance just uses fiscal metrics. 

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