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Google Keeps ‘Most Significant Brand’ Crown

Internet search kingpin Google is the most important brand in the universe, according to a new survey. The search giant edged out Apple for the honor of “most significant brand” for the second consecutive year.

Researchers asked 3,625 industry professionals and students to name the brands that had the biggest impact on their lives in 2006 for survey, which was commissioned byBrandchannel.com.

Not surprisingly, four of the top five brands belong to technology companies.

Branded Upstarts

However, the rapid rise of YouTube, which Google bought last October for US$1.7 billion, was something of a surprise. The video-sharing Web site placed third. Wikipedia, the not-for-profit online encyclopedia, claimed the fourth spot.

“The dramatic debut of these newcomers — YouTube in third and Wikipedia in fourth — is an indication of a larger trend, the growing impact of online brands built on user-generated contents,” said Brandchannel editor Anthony Zumpano.

Starbucks was the only non-technology outfit to crash the top five, landing in the final spot for 2006.

Organic Branding

Consumers’ desire for genuine connectedness has driven them to seek out new communities, new channels and new experiences, said Lisa Bradner, an analyst with Forrester Research, so it should not be a surprise that some of the most significant brands revolve around these community-oriented Web sites.

“Brand marketers are struggling to look for ways to create and sustain meaningful brands,” she told TechNewsWorld. “They must align more closely with their core consumer and be developed and nurtured by those consumers, as well as by the companies that market them.”

Forrester calls the consumer phenomenon of moving away from institutions toward technology-empowered user communities “social computing,” noting that it shifts power from institutions to communities.

“Brands that connect with their target consumers must be more organic in nature,” the report said.

Other Players

Other brands rounding out the top ten on the Global list were Finnish phone maker Nokia, Luxembourg-based telephony network Skype, Swedish-based furniture manufacture Ikea, the iconic Coca-Cola company and Japanese car company Toyota.

The survey did not take into consideration factors such as financial data or positive or negative impact of the brand when computing rankings, according to the company.

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