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Revealed: The 8 brands that rule the world

The picture above gives you a clue as to the identity of the world's most valuable brand. Yes, it's fruit. No, hang on, Apple. It's Apple.

After briefly falling to number two in the world, the tech giant has returned to its place at the top of the tree, according to the annual BrandZ ranking put together by research agency Millward Brown, which uses a mix of market data and consumer surveys to calculate what portion of a company's value can be put in its brand name. Last year's winner, Google, is still doing alright for itself though, sitting pretty in second in a technology dominated list - only Coca-Cola, in 8th place and the financial services of Visa in 5th, stand outside of that sector.

They're the names we trust and return to; check them all out below, together with a snapshot of their finest and worst moments on their path to success.

1. APPLE

Brand Value (Last Year's Figure)/percentage change

$247bn ($148 bn) +67%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: turning the music industry on its head with the invention of the iPod in 2001, before morphing it into the iPhone in 2007

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: the now infamous forced giveaway of U2's Songs Of Innocence was a PR disaster which made Apple look arrogant. There's a few more wrong turns here

2. Google

$173bn ($158bn) +9%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: Google Maps has been an unqualified success, staying dominant even after Apple entered the field, while Google Street View revolutionised our view of the world around us

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: it's famously said that the only people with an active Google Plus account are people who work for Google

3. Microsoft

$116bn ($90bn) +28%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: Windows 95 was perhaps the ultimate operating system, remaining dominant for so long afterwards that it was actually difficult to get people to upgrade. So perhaps that actually belongs in the next category. So good it was bad. See also Windows XP

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: Microsoft missed the mp3 player boat with its Zune, Bing got thumped by Google and Windows 8 was a huge misstep, while Internet Explorer 6 cost the company millions when it illegally bundled it with Windows, as well as being surpassed by the likes of Chrome and the rest

4. IBM

$94bn ($108bn) -13%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: the IBM System 360 was one of the most successful computer systems ever launched, while it also invented the hard drive and the floppy disc

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: when IBM was rushing to get its first personal computer on the market, it enlisted Microsoft to make the software for it. However, it allowed Microsoft to keep the licence for it to give to other PC makers. Oracle's Larry Ellison has called IBM's decision "the single worst mistake in the history of enterprise on earth"

5. Visa

$92bn ($79bn) +16%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: becoming the pre-eminent provider of credit cards and payment systems to the whole globe

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: its continuing sponsorship of FIFA is probably not looking like the best decision right now

6. AT&T

$89bn ($78bn) +15%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: becoming dominant in fixed-line telephone provision in the US, yet also not missing the boat on mobile, becoming the second biggest company in the US in that field

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: earlier this year it was fined a record $25m over data security breaches after the details of around 280,000 people were stolen

7. Verizon

$86bn ($63bn) +36%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: in 2000, Bell Atlantic teamed up with Vodafone to form Verizon Wireless which had unrivalled US national coverage, putting them a competitive advantage to regional providers

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: the jury is still out on their colossal deal, earlier this year, to buy AOL for $4.4bn

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8. Coca-Cola

$84bn ($81bn) +4%

Finest moment of maximising brand value: in Australia in 2011 and the UK in 2013, Coca-Colas decision to print first names on their bottles was a huge PR success. Also, Coke was the first commercial sponsor of the modern Olympic Games - and has remained one ever since

Worst moment of brand-damaging incompetence: the 1985 attempt to change the formula of the drink, to create 'New Coke' was a disaster, with the company forced to return to their old recipe

(Image: Shutterstock)