Google, Microsoft brands bigger than Apple's? One study says yes

The FutureBrand Top 100 Index asks "informed consumers" to rate brands. Google comes first. Apple is beaten even by Microsoft.

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This is the future. Google/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

How strong are you today?

You're going to need as much strength as you have to focus on all this. Because today we're discussing brand strength. This can be akin to discussing the various prettinesses of fashion models.

Should you be feeling a little weak, I will give you the basic information: Google and Microsoft are, apparently, stronger brands than Apple. Indeed, Samsung, is fast catching up to Apple in terms of emotional biceps.

While the more tender of you go to lie down, we'll delve into some details.

I am staring at a report produced by a company called FutureBrand. This concern exists to "define and deliver future brand experiences." It sounds like the perfect wedding planner, doesn't it?

Still, FutureBrand took the PricewaterhouseCoopers list of Top 100 companies, twirled it around its futuristic methodology and produced some results.

Google came first in its list of strong brands. Second was Microsoft. Yes, that Microsoft. And Apple, long thought by many to be the preeminent brand in the world, came fourth. (Walt Disney was third.)

As they shiver in Cupertino at this troubling peek into the future, let's look at FutureBrand's method. The company says that this was no superficial survey of brand awareness.

Instead, it infiltrated itself into the minds of 3,030 "informed consumers" in 17 countries. It asked them questions based on FutureBrand's own model of what a future brand should be.

Here's the company's definition of informed: "By 'informed' we mean aware of and know something about at least 7 or more of the world's top 100 companies."

My heart swells on knowing that, according to this definition, I am informed about ballet, sous-vide cooking, and rhythmic gymnastics.

Still, there must have been some brain power on the part of FutureBrand, once it collated its findings.

"We used adaptive conjoint analysis to pick out the current and future drivers, patterns, strengths, and weaknesses regarding the different regions and industries," says FutureBrand.

Honestly, if you've never used adaptive conjoint analysis, how on earth do you expect to succeed in this world?

Among the dimensions along which this conjoinment was performed were: Builds a Strong Emotional Connection, Engaging Experience at Every Touchpoint, Makes Lives Better, Has a Clear Vision of the Future, Redefines the Category, Delivers Sustainable Value.

The Top 10 did mostly comprise tech companies, with Samsung and Intel right behind Apple, and IBM lurking at number 10.

FutureBrand sums up the ideal brand of the future as one that marries "strong perceptions of its purpose in the world with the experience it delivers.

"It means fast cars with zero emissions; profitability with ethics, taste, and health; and shareholder value with positive societal impact," says the report.

I will leave you to debate the ethics, taste, and health of Google Glass. But first, one other piece of news.

Barron's just announced its list of the world's most respected companies. Last year, Berkshire Hathaway was the winner. This year, why, it's Apple.

There's something adorable about these lists, isn't there?

 

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