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Apple tops FutureBrand Index – tech companies dominate the list

Forward-thinking companies that prioritize technological innovation around products and services essential to people’s lives reigned supreme in the 2023 FutureBrand Index unveiled today. The data suggests that the future of brands hinges on their ability to avoid the ‘Purpose Void’ – a place where an ever more informed and enquiring public relegates organizations which fail to practice what they preach – and demonstrate genuine corporate purpose through tangible impact. 

The most notable risers on the list – including Microsoft, Unilever, Nestlé and Amazon – are known for their ability to fulfil more fundamental human needs amid increasing levels of global uncertainty caused by climate change, international conflicts, inflation and the rise of AI.  

“In a world where safety and security are scarce, brands must become beacons of progressive responsibility and purpose-based action. They need to act as ‘trust lighthouses’ that can ease people’s concerns and shine a light on a better future,” said FutureBrand Global Chief Strategy Officer Jon Tipple. “This is especially important as many customers, from business-to-business buyers to end consumers, want to interact with organizations that put forth products and services that can make a difference in our individual lives and the world in general.” 

The Top 5 companies in the FutureBrand Index this year are:  

  1. Apple, noted for its innovation, safety and privacy 
  2. CATL, noted for enabling the future of transportation with its EV batteries
  3. NextEra Energy, noted for its renewable energy solutions 
  4. TSMC, noted for its microchips that power everything from smartphones to AL 
  5. Samsung, noted for its slew of consumer tech products and appliances 

The newly released index, produced by brand-led business transformation company FutureBrand, focuses on 100 companies with the largest global market capitalization, as determined by PwC. The index is based on research around brand perception and includes an in-depth survey of business professionals in 15 countries. 

Additional insights derived from the study include:  

AI investment polishes brand halo: Actively investing in emerging technologies such as AI is an essential factor driving a company’s brand perceptions success. Leading AI software and chips supplier Nvidia ranks in No. 8, while ASML, which provides equipment chipmakers use to produce AI chips, came in No. 9. Other brands forging ahead in AI also jumped up the list, including Microsoft (No. 6) and Intel (No. 22).  

Consumer brands make a comeback: Over the last two years, the FutureBrand Index has tracked B2B businesses as they have marched up the Top 100. But with economic and geopolitical uncertainty persisting into this year, consumer brands have leapt back up the list. Amazon (No. 16) jumped 15 places YoY, a sign that its inflation-proof pricing models and commitment to speed and convenience are more imperative than ever before. In addition, Unilever came in No. 18 – a rise of 13 places since it was last featured in the index in 2021, and Nestlé (No. 20) returns to the Top 20 for the first time since 2015.  

Corporate responsibility efforts bolster brand ranking: Overall, companies that are known for trust, respect, resource management, and dedication to their mission ranked higher on the list. Companies that displayed a corporate conscience and responsible governance resonated strongly as seen by the performance of NextEra Energy and CATL.  

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Coca-Cola were deemed the most valuable companies in terms of the perception of their diversity, equity, inclusivity, belonging, and accessibility (DEIB) efforts.  

Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft and Google ranked as the companies when it comes to implementing more circular business models.  

“The FutureBrand Index points towards a truth: in order to garner high brand esteem, companies must foster agility, spearhead innovation, and embrace an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility,” said Lynne Field, Head of Strategy at FutureBrand North America. “In this era of corporate mistrust and consumer polarization, the companies that remain true to their mission and deliver what they promise will win in the hearts and minds of their stakeholders.”