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Apple overtook Google in this year's 'Top 100 Most Valuable Brands'? BrandZ study, which brand consultancy Millward Brown recently released. The technology giant nabbed the top ranking after receiving an 84 percent increase in brand value this year while Google dropped by two percent. As a result, Google (which held the number one spot for four years straight) took the second ranking, followed consecutively by IBM, McDonald's, Microsoft and Coca Cola. The annual BrandZ study identifies and ranks brands using a number of factors, including an 'estimate of the brand's contribution to earnings, valuation of intangible assets, measures of customer perception and an estimate of growth potential,'? according to the Financial Times. While it's no wonder Apple received the number one ranking this year due to the wild success of its iPad and iPhone, it makes me wonder, 'What are the overarching communications and business factors that lead to Apple's success?' And better yet, 'How can we apply them to our brands?' Constant innovation. Apple is a leader, not a follower. It's continuous how much is prednisone advancement and groundbreaking product line sets the company apart. 'By nurturing its brand and constantly innovating, Apple is able to command a high price premium and weather economic turbulence, providing a global business success story that other brands can learn from,'? said Eileen Brown, CEO of Millward Brown. We need to push our brands to persistently strive to do greater things instead of taking breathers after bouts of success. Whether it's creating new products or developing new 'outside of the box'? marketing initiatives, the need for reinvention is critical in today's competitive landscape. Selling an experience. Apple doesn't just sell products, it sells an experience. It leverages eye-pleasing store aesthetics, 'user experience'?-focused commercials, and smartly-crafted communications messaging to convey the experiential benefit of its brand. In fact, check out its recent press release announcing the latest version of its iMac; Apple used 80 adjectives in 10 paragraphs to describe the experience! We should guide our brands to focus on user experience through our marketing strategies. Oftentimes, consumers may not remember specific product details, but they remember their overall experience and related feelings associated with the product. Capitalizing on this notion is a great way to generate effective marketing campaigns. Understanding the target audience. Apple researches and understands its consumers. It launched its iPod in 2001 and despite the fact that digital music players had been around for the previous three years, Apple wanted to be the first to 'make a big splash'? by understanding what consumers want in their portable digital music players. Apple's research revealed that consumers want to bring as much music with them as possible when on-the-go, but in the least obtrusive way. This revelation inspired Apple to make the iPod sleek and small, yet able to hold 1,000 songs. By 2004, Apple had sold more than three million iPods, creating a billion-dollar business for Apple. We should encourage our brands to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. By equipping our brands with a fresh perspective, they will have a strong competitive advantage. After all, what 'works'? may not be obvious to the naked eye. In today's competitive world, the race to the top can be challenging and downright taxing. Inputting basic principles from Apple, the wizard in the world of tech, can give us the competitive advantage we need for success.