Google is the world's most valuable brand, according to a brand valuation company's list of the top 500 global brands.
Assigning a dollar amount to Google's brand, BrandFinance raised the search giant's value to $44.2 billion this year, up 23 percent from $36 billion last year.
Google often embarks on ventures that aren't necessarily commercial but have a positive impact on its brand rating (AAA+), which is the highest in the list, according to BrandFinance. One example includes Google's online services designed to help rescue efforts after the natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan.
To determine the world's top brands, BrandFinance pulls together different financial and business criteria and assigns benchmarking scores to calculate the value of a brand. This year's rankings were based on data taken on December 31 of last year.
Following Google on the list was Microsoft with a brand value of $42.8 billion, up from $33.6 billion in 2010. In boosting Microsoft to second place from fifth place, BrandFinance pointed to Windows 7 and Bing, which both debuted in 2009 and have garnered generally positive reviews since.
Other tech players at the top of the rankings include IBM in fourth place and British mobile carrier Vodafone in fifth. But one major company that shot up in the ranks was Apple.
Moving to No. 8 on the list from No. 20 last year, Apple's brand value increased by 45 percent to $29.5 billion due in large part to the "unrivaled loyalty and affection" that the company commands within its sector, BrandFinance said.
Nokia was one tech company that didn't fair as well. Struggling in the smartphone market due to competition from Apple and Android, Nokia saw its brand value drop to $9.6 billion from $19.8 billion last year. Like other industry watchers, BrandFinance is waiting to see if can help revive its standing.
With the surge in social networking, Facebook joined the BrandFinance Global 500 list for the first time with a value of $3.7 billion based on the brand's popularity and huge growth in customers.
''The rise of the technology brands has been expected for some time, although Nokia's fall shows that it is tough to stay at the forefront of such a dynamic industry," BrandFinance CEO David Haigh said in a statement. "Over the last couple of years, we have found that, across many leading companies, senior management are increasingly using brand valuation dashboards to monitor the health of their brands throughout the year in order to make better informed strategic marketing decisions.
And in a nod to Apple's brand, the Business Journals today named the company its Grand Award winner in its annual American Brand Excellence Awards. Now in its eight year, the awards recognize brands that best meet the needs of small and mid-sized businesses.
"Apple has become the premier business brand, and as the leader of the tablet category with the iPad, Apple is redefining how we work," Godfrey Phillips, VP of Research for The Business Journals, said in a statement. "Our study (which comes out on Monday) found that nine percent of business owners currently use an iPad for business."
Apple also was the top winner in the technology area, while Verizon Wireless was the top brand in the telecommunications category and Staples was No. 1 among retailers.
"The American Brand Excellence Awards are unique in that they represent how business owners and managers feel about the companies that best support their businesses and help them succeed," Michael Olivieri, Chief Revenue Officer of American City Business Journals, said in a statement.