By Daniel Hunter

Apple (US$87 billion) pips Samsung (US$58 billion) as the world’s most valuable brand, but Ferrari is the world’s most powerful brand, according to leading brand valuation and marketing experts Brand Finance.

The BrandFinance Global 500 analyses the performance of leading brands across all major business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sectors, to produce a list of the world’s top 500 most valuable brands, making it the most extensive brand valuation study of its kind in the world.

Electronics giant Apple had a roller coaster year in 2012 — its enterprise value rocketed from US$350 billion to US$600 billion only to dip to US$400 billion in the space of 12 months.

Despite a raft of new product launches such as the new iPhone and iPad the company continued to lose ground to Samsung and it was only its sheer size that helped Apple maintain its lead position over its smaller but more nimble South Korean rival.

The net result for Apple’s brand value was a rise from $70 billion to $87 billion but a slight weakening of its brand rating from AAA+ to AAA.

The mighty Apple brand is supporting the company as it arguably loses its competitive edge to Samsung in the wake of the launch of Galaxy S3, the most pre-ordered smart phone of all time. Samsung’s brand value leaped by a staggering 54 per cent (US$20.6 billion) and more new digital consumer products are expected to be launched during 2013.

“Brand is one of many intangible assets which drive profitable growth. Technology, contractual, human capital and customer intangibles as well as general goodwill all drive overall corporate value," Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said.

"With revenues in the tens of billions, Apple and Samsung are slugging it out for global brand supremacy and are vying with each other to create strong ‘customer love’ for their brands. However, there are other brands in the Global 500 that though they may never challenge the brand value giants, are nonetheless extremely powerful and well-loved.”

A case in point is Ferrari, owned by Italian car giant Fiat, that achieved the highest brand rating in the Global 500 despite being a niche sports car manufacturer with a much smaller enterprise value than many of the other global brands in the Top 500.

“I often think that the Italian genius for car design is based in the language of craft,” comments world renowned design critic Stephen Bayley. “Theirs is a workshop vocabulary with words for a car’s features and contours many of which simply don’t exist in English. If you have a word for it you can draw it. That word is beauty,” he says.

A key driver of brand value is revenue. Clearly Ferrari cannot compete in terms of the size of the multi-national brands. However its brand rating takes into account other financial metrics such as net margins, average revenue per customer, marketing and advertising spend as well as qualitative measures such as brand affection and loyalty.

Taken together, Ferrari outperforms not only rival auto manufacturers BMW, VW, Mercedes Benz, Lexus and Audi but all brands worldwide.

Ferrari today announced record results for the first nine months of 2012, recording an increase in net profits by 7.6 per cent to €152.4m on a turnover of €1.76 billion.

"It is always a pleasure to top any list and still more so when the competition includes some of the world's most famous companies. This achievement proves that even in very tough economic times, Italy can still offer the world businesses of excellence," commented Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo. "Behind this acknowledgement are exceptional products made by equally exceptional men and women. They made it possible and for that I thank them."

David Haigh concludes: “As the Global 500 powerfully demonstrates, customer expectations of brands are much higher than ever as trust becomes a critical business issue in a time of increased economic uncertainty. To fulfil such expectations, brand owners must continue to innovate whilst at the same time deliver quality with value, choice with social responsibility and sustainability with growth.”

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