Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Coca-Cola’s red and white lettering is identifiable to 94 percent of the world’s population—it’s as ubiquitous and clear as a brand can be, and it's brand alone is worth an estimated $79.2 billion. But according to a brand survey, what we drink isn’t as lucrative as where our eyes and fingers spend their time. Coca-Cola, it turns out, has been passed by Apple Computers as the world’s most valuable brand.
The corporate identity and branding consulting company Interbrand announced that Coca-Cola’s 13-year reign as the world’s most valuable brand is over. Apple took the mantle of “Best Global Brand,” as the beverage flattened slightly to the No. 3 slot, the first time it hasn’t topped Interbrand’s survey.
Apple was valued at $98.3 billion, up 28 percent from the 2012 survey—not bad for a brand that critics claim is pretty much bereft of ideas. Google also rose to No. 2 in this year’s survey, up from being ranked fourth last year. Along with Coke, McDonald’s and Toyota made the list at Nos. 7 and 10, respectively, but the rest was all technology companies. Apple’s new and old rivals—Samsung, Microsoft and IBM—and its chip-maker, Intel, fill the top ten. Facebook, often spoken of in the same hallowed tones, rose to number 52 on its second year on the list.
If it seems difficult to compare a product that is cheaply sold pretty much everywhere and one that sells computers and high-end tablets. Joseph V. Tripodi, Coke’s executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial leadership officer, underscored how branding can feel only tangentially related to an actual product.
“We’ve seen the value of technology brands rise as they create new ways for people to stay connected virtually,” Tripodi told The New York Times. “The lasting power of our brand is built on the social moment of sharing a Coca-Cola with friends and family.”
It’s easy to understand why Apple’s brand tops the list. Not only did the company’s stock break the world record for company value last year, the cult of Apple is by this point evolving into high religion. Their meticulously branded and curated stores are their churches. The faithful lined up on the sidewalks outside before the iPhone 5S/C even had a release date. We all probably know someone or someone’s elderly aunt who collects old Coca-Cola memorabilia, but artifacts from Apple’s origins are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at Christie’s auction house alongside Rembrandts.
The computer company is even getting a holy site. Apple’s Garden of Eden, the legendary garage in Los Altos, California, where Steves Jobs and Woz forged the first Apple computers, may become a protected historical site, pending evaluation by the Los Altos Historical Society.
I, for one, am looking forward to when Apple screws up and gives us “New Apple," but they might just be too savvy. Even if Apple's proprietary cables keep their prices inflated, and they have the temerity to call their customer service employees "geniuses," you can't really argue with results.