- Apple landed as the most valuable brand in Kantar’s latest BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands Report, a spot it reclaimed last year after previously being unseated by Amazon.
- While the companies at the top have shifted, tech continues to dominate the list, with Google and Microsoft rounding out the top three in 2023. Microsoft usurped Amazon, now at number four. Fast food was the second highest-performing category overall, reflecting improved customer experience and communications.
- The 100 companies in the ranking represent a collective $6.9 trillion in brand value, a 20% drop versus 2022. Kantar noted that, despite the aggregate decline, brands have preserved longer-term growth trends and still have opportunities to shore up their value in trying economic conditions.
Kantar’s 2023 BrandZ rankings underscore some of the challenges brands have faced over the past year-plus with inflation, changing consumer and regulatory demands and global strife. Of the top 10 companies in this year’s list, just two — Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton — improved their value over 2022. Some, like Google, experienced fairly precipitous declines, with the search giant’s value dropping from $819 billion in 2022 to $577 billion in 2023. Still, Kantar painted the state of the industry as healthy, with valuations up 47% over pre-COVID levels in 2019.
“This year’s results — despite the fall in aggregate value — are, in fact, a continuation of the long-term growth trend for brands, which began following the global financial crisis of 2008 and continued up until the start of the pandemic in 2020,” said Martin Guerrieria, head of Kantar’s BrandZ unit, in a press statement. “While the market has proved volatile and been greatly impacted by global macroeconomics, consumers’ view of brands has proved far more stable — the most valuable brands in the world remain as highly regarded as ever.”
Though Big Tech managed to stay at the head of the pack in 2023 and represent the highest total level of brand value, the sector has experienced a walloping, reputational and otherwise, coming out of the pandemic. Platforms like Google and Meta (f.k.a. Facebook) — the latter of which dropped off the top 10 this year — are contending with anemic revenue growth due to shifting privacy mandates and weakening advertiser demand. Mass layoffs have run rampant over the past year, with efficiency the new name of the game. Apple, which was on track to be the first firm to hit a $1 trillion valuation in Kantar’s estimates last year, saw its brand value drop to $880 billion, though that figure is nothing to scoff at.
The iPhone maker has grappled with slowing global demand for smartphones while new bets, like a pricey mixed-reality headset, have yet to hit the market. Similarly, Google and Meta’s ramped-up investments in generative artificial intelligence remain in the experimental stages.
TikTok, the ByteDance-owned social video app, held its place as the second-most disruptive brand in the rankings, behind only Elon Musk’s Tesla, the leader in the automotive category with a valuation of $67.7 billion. TikTok has again been threatened with a U.S. ban, making its future in the region less certain.
Meanwhile, legacy brands posted impressive performance in the BrandZ rankings. Pepsi, which recently unveiled its first visual overhaul in over a decade, saw its value up 17% year-over-year to $18.8 billion, placing it back in the global top 100 at number 91. Kantar said the company’s boost could be attributed to “great advertising.” Soft drink rival Coke was up 8%, pushing it back into the top 10 for the first time in seven years. Consumer packaged goods have been surprisingly resilient in the face of inflation, which has led many marketers to hold steady with ad expenditures that typically get culled in a downturn.
Fast food was another bright spot, with Burger King, Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks standing out. The industry has benefited from improved customer service and marketing, according to Kantar. Burger King, a once-flagging name among the major chains, has streamlined its drive-thru experience and menu while rolling out a wide-ranging brand refresh that has achieved viral success and helped reignite consumer interest in signature offerings like the Whopper. Burger King’s brand value ticked up 8% YoY to $7.7 billion.
Despite some clear successes, there are other areas where marketers continue to lag. Purpose-led issues like diversity and inclusion have come under heavy fire in 2023 amid heightened culture wars. Just 2% of the companies named most valuable by Kantar are perceived as leaders in sustainability.