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What's in a Name? For Google, Nearly $32 Billion

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In a year that saw automakers, banks and insurance companies implode and beg for billions in taxpayer assistance, technology companies like Google, IBM and Amazon managed to improve the value of their brands by billions of dollars.

According to rankings released this week from a survey by BusinessWeek and Interbrand, a New York-based brand consultancy, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) made the biggest strides this year -- the value of its brand soared up 25 percent to an estimated $32 billion, placing its No. 7 on the global top 10.

IBM (NYSE: IBM), which benefits from being the oldest technology company on the list, inched up 2 percent this year, to No. 2 overall behind Coca-Cola with a brand value of $60.2 billion. Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) brand lost about 4 percent of its value, slipping to $56.6 billion. Intel and Oracle lost 2 percent and 1 percent of their value, falling to $30.6 billion and $13.9 billion, respectively.

For the time in survey history, the top 100 global brands actually lost value, shedding 4.6 percent, or $55.72 billion, in brand value. In fact, perennial top 100 companies including Merrill Lynch (No. 34 in 2008) and ING (No. 86) fell off the list altogether. Apparently relying on taxpayer billions to survive may not be the best way to build a brand.

"Not surprisingly, big banks and auto brands fared the worst, while food brands benefited as consumers began eating more at home," researchers said in the report. "The recession has presented brand stewards with the most severe test of their careers. Companies have had to adjust rapidly as consumers reexamine their purchases and rethink brand loyalties."

For the ninth year in a row, Coca-Cola topped the list of global brands, gaining 2 percent in value to more than $68.7 billion.

Google's "Do No Evil" motto and aggressive marketing campaigns and IBM's patent-collecting prowess were cited as reasons for both companies' brand success. Amazon checked in at No. 43 at $7.8 billion while eBay and Yahoo ranked No. 46 and No. 64, respectively.

The brutal economy punished automakers and banks the most, according to the survey. UBS fell 31 places to No. 72 and lost more than half of its brand value in 2008. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group didn't even make the top 100 list.