Google's Brand Value Surges, Yahoo's Wanes

Shares of Google may be languishing in their stock market value, but the underlying financial value of the Google brand continues to be the world's strongest. Despite the fact that Google shares are trading nearly 28% off their 52-week high, the estimated value of its brand rose 30% over the past year to $86.1 billion, making it the most valuable of the top 100 brands analyzed in a new study by WPP Group's Millward Brown unit.

At that rate, Google surpassed the brand value of the No. 2 corporate brand - GE ($71.4 billion) - by $14.7 billion. Google's brand value currently is estimated to be worth $15.2 billion more than the third most valuable corporate brand: Microsoft ($70.9 billion).

The findings comes from the third annul edition of Millward Brown's BrandZ study, which estimates the financial value of the top 100 brands. The study indicates that brands are becoming more valuable relative to other business metrics and are a key component in driving business growth.

The 100 companies ranked in the BrandZ study significantly outperformed the stock market when compared to the S&P 500. The combined value of the BrandZ Top 100 increased by 21% from $1.6 trillion in 2007 to $1.94 trillion in 2008, more than double the increase experienced the previous year.

The BrandZ is dominated by technology oriented companies, and has only a few pure play media brands on the list. Among them are Disney, which rose 5% to a brand value of $23.7 billion (ranked No. 23), and Yahoo, which fell 13% to $11.5 billion (ranked No. 62).

"This year's brand ranking demonstrates the importance of investing in brands, especially in times of market turmoil. Strong brands generate superior returns and protect businesses from risk," stated Joanna Seddon, CEO of Millward Brown Optimor, the division that conducted the BrandZ analysis. "Our data shows that strong brands continue to outperform weak ones in terms of market share and share price during recessions."

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