Most Valuable Global Brands: 2015 vs 2021


brand equity, brand valuation, metrics, competition

Review the activity below or download the PDF student worksheet

Link to Kanter Brand Z: Kanter Top 10 brands for 2021

Link to a Brand Ranking site: Ranking the Brands

Student Discussion Activity

This marketing exercise is designed to look at the most valuable brands in the world – as highlighted by BrandZ – comparing the top 10 brands from 2015 to 2021.

As you probably know, brand equity is becoming increasingly important factor to successful brands. Brand equity has the ability for firms to gain additional market share, at a price premium, with increased customer loyalty, and greater acceptance of new products. It also provides significantly more access to more retailer channels and easier ability to enter new markets.

Professional valuation companies that rank firms on the brand equity value consider how much the brand contributes to additional profitability.

Here are the top 10 brands for 2015 as compared to 2021, as determined by Kanter Brand Z.


Top 10 2015 Top 10 2021

Brand Valuation Ranking Changes


Apple Amazon

Amazon, up from 14 to 1


Google Apple

Apple, down from 1 to 2


Microsoft Google

Google, down from 2 to 3


IBM Microsoft

Microsoft, down from 3 to 4


Visa Tencent

Tencent, up from 11 to 5


AT&T Facebook

Facebook, up from 12 to 6


Verizon Alibaba

Alibaba, up from 13 to 7


Coca-Cola Visa

Visa, down from 5 to 8


McDonalds McDonalds

McDonalds, no change, stays at 9


Marlboro Mastercard

Mastercard, up from 20 to 10

Verizon, down from 7 to 13

AT&T, down from 6 to 14

Coca-Cola, down from 8 to 16

Marlboro, down from 10 to 32

Student Discussion Questions

  1. Most professional brand valuation firms consider the impact of brand’s contribution to overall profitability to measure brand equity, rather than softer emotional metrics, such as likability – do you agree with this profit-focused approach?
  2. Have a look at the top 10 brands in the world, what similarities can you see in regards to their marketing activities?
  3. Compare the brand valuation rankings from 2015 to 2021. What do you think are the main strategic, marketing, and environmental drivers that have contributed to the re-ordering of these brand ranks?
  4. Around 2005, Coca-Cola was one of the top five most valuable brands in the world, and before that it held the number one spot. Do you think it is possible for Coca-Cola to every regain the number one spot?
  5. How is it possible that the Marlboro (cigarette) brand is still a valuable worldwide brand world – given it is prohibited from advertising in many countries? Therefore, to what extent do you think that advertising spend influences overall brand equity?

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