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How Apple became the world’s most valuable brand

Valued at more than $153 billion, it overtook Google on the strength of the iPhone and iPad

For the first time since BrandZ began compiling its annual ranking of the world's most valuable brands, Apple (aapl) topped the list with an 84% surge that put its value at more than $153 billion, comfortably ahead of Google (goog), which had held the top spot since 2007.

According to Millward Brown, the subsidiary of advertising giant WPP (wppgy) that compiles the list, Apple's burnished its image with consumers through a combination of low-profile strategies and high-profile marketing tactics:

"Apple continued quietly developing a cloud and loudly discovered an empty space in the computing category that it filled with a new device – the iPad. In the last quarter of 2010, Apple sold more iPads than Mac computers. The iPad, which quickly met competition from other tablet makers like Samsung, helped Apple pass Dell and HP in total portable computer sales. An Apple cloud would further strengthen the brand as a trinity of platform, content and device."

Google, which is still one of the world's most trusted and recommended brands as BrandZ measures these things, lost 2% of its value this year in part because of Facebook (up 246%), which overtook Google in 2010 as the most America's most visited website.

How are these values determined? The complete BrandZ report, available as a pdf here, is 53-page crash course on the principles of modern global marketing. BrandZ's Top 100 list is reproduced below the fold.

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