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Interbrand Announces the 2008 Best Global Brands

Credit Crisis Threatens Leading Financial Services Brands Coca-Cola Maintains its No. 1 Spot; Google’s Brand Soars; Merrill Lynch’s Plummets

New York, NY, USA, September 18, 2008—Google, Apple, Amazon.com, Zara and Nintendo are among this year’s top gainers in Interbrand’s annual ranking of The Best Global Brands, and not surprisingly, financial services giants Merrill Lynch, Citi and Morgan Stanley are among the companies that have slipped dramatically down the list.

Coca-Cola (No.1) remains the best global brand for the eighth year in a row. Yet, a notable shift in this year’s rankings was made by IBM, which took over the No. 2 position from Microsoft (No. 3). Google also moved into the top 10 brands, at No. 10, after ranking at No. 20 in 2007.

“The Best Global Brands 2008 ranking is a reflection of the global economy – the current credit crisis in the U.S., the growth of emerging markets and the increased emphasis on sustainability are all key trends that resulted in brands rising or failing on the list,” said Jez Frampton, Global CEO of Interbrand. “The increasing complexities of the global economy reinforce the importance of protecting and growing a brand. It is a company’s most valuable asset – and a far less volatile asset than others during a time of economic uncertainty.”

Movement in the Best Global Brands 2008 ranking confirms that the tumultuous credit markets are affecting leading financial services brands, including Merrill Lynch (No. 34) and Citi (No. 19). However, some strong industry leaders have survived such as HSBC (No. 27) and credit card companies Visa (a new entrant to the list at No. 100) and American Express (No. 15), which have all been able to transcend the credit crisis due to their trusted brands.

Other brands that fell significantly on the 2008 list include Ford (No. 49) and Gap (No. 77). While notable newcomers include H&M (No. 22), Thomson Reuters (No. 44), BlackBerry (No. 73), Giorgio Armani (No. 94), Marriott (No. 96), FedEx (No. 99) and Visa (No. 100).

Emerging market growth has had a significant impact on this year’s ranking. As customers in these markets accumulate wealth and seek to demonstrate it, luxury brands are seen as a clear indication that one belongs to the new elite. Companies like Porsche (No. 75), Ferrari (No. 93) and Prada (No. 91), have experienced great success in the world’s emerging markets.

Not surprisingly, sustainability is driving brand value across all sectors – from automotive, to consumer products, to financial services. Auto-makers like Honda (No. 20) and Mercedes (No. 11) are creating new, more fuel efficient car models. Honda was the only car manufacturer to report better U.S. sales this year, in June 2008, than it did last year. Companies like GE (No. 4) and BP (No. 84) increased their brand valuation by investing a substantial amount in sustainable business practices. BP also rose among the ranks as a result of its leadership position in working towards greener energy investing in sustainable energy sources.

“In troubled economies business doesn’t cease. Companies may struggle, but the practice of buying and selling continues no matter what,” says Frampton. “Many of the Best Global Brands know this and come through these difficult times stronger and better poised to compete. The key to success, in good times and bad is understanding how your brand creates value.”

Interbrand’s The Best Global Brands 2008 report will be available, online at www.interbrand.com and a special report in conjunction with BusinessWeek can be found at www.businessweek.com at 6:00 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, September 18 and on newsstands on Monday, September 22nd. The results will also be discussed at Advertising Week 2008 during the BusinessWeek Best Global Brands Summit on Monday, September 22nd at the Times Center (242 W. 41st Street) in New York City.

Best Global Brands 2008 Methodology and Results To qualify for inclusion in the BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands 2008 list, each brand must derive at least a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizable outside of its base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. This methodology evaluates brand value in the same way any other corporate asset is valued—on the basis of how much it is likely to earn for the company in the future. Interbrand uses a combination of analysts’ projections, company financial documents, and its own qualitative and quantitative analysis to arrive at a net present value of those earnings.

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