Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), maker of the iPhone, iPad and iMac, overtook search-engine giant Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) to become the world’s most valuable brand, WPP Plc said in a report today.

Apple’s brand value climbed 84 percent in the past year to $153.3 billion, WPP’s Millward Brown unit said. Google’s brand lost 2 percent to $111.5 billion, ending four years atop the rankings, while International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) climbed 17 percent to be the No. 3, ahead of McDonald’s Corp.

New versions of the iPhone and iMac, and the introduction of the iPad tablet, helped Cupertino, California-based Apple almost double sales and profit for the latest quarter. Apple, which overtook Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), as the most-valuable technology company by market value in May 2010, boosted its share of the global phone market and is the leading seller of tablet computers.

Microsoft ranked fifth followed by Coca-Cola and AT&T (NYSE: T) in seventh.

“It’s clear that every single Apple employee, from Steve Jobs and Tim Cook to the summer interns, see protecting and nurturing that brand as a top priority,” Millward Brown Chief Executive Officer Eileen Campbell wrote in the report. “Tablet computing also drove value growth not just for Apple, but also for the providers who support yet another networked device.”

Facebook Inc., operator of the world’s largest social- networking site, had a 246 percent climb in brand value, the fastest, to become the No. 35 brand at $19.1 billion, according to the report. Baidu Inc., Google’s Chinese rival, posted the second-fastest climb at 141 percent, to be the No. 29 brand at $22.6 billion.

Twelve of the top 100 global brands were from China, led by China Mobile Ltd. (941) at No. 9 and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. at No. 11. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), which ranked 14th, overtook Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), which ranked 15th, to become the most-valuable retail brand.

“The importance of brand for global business success is becoming increasingly significant,” said David Roth of WPP. “In the last year, the global economy shifted from recovery to real growth, the combined value of all brands in the Top 100 ranking has risen by 64 percent since 2006 and is now worth $2.4 trillion. Strong brands, while not immune to the vicissitudes of the market, are more protected, prepared, resourceful and resilient.”

For more details about the report, read here.

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