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BrandZ ranks Microsoft as most valuable B2B brand

Microsoft came out on top of Brand Z’s first-ever annual ranking of the most valuable B2B brands. WPP and Millward Brown released the ranking in partnership with LinkedIn.

The No. 1 brand – which is No. 3 on Top 100 Global Brands report that includes both B2B and B2C businesses – grew its value 5 percent in the last year to $122 billion. According to the report, Microsoft’s growth can be attributed to a strong performance across its cloud services and operating systems divisions.

The report revealed that the top 20 B2B brands are worth a combined $682 billion. Rounding out the top five most valuable B2B brands are: IBM at No. 2 with a brand value of $86.2 billion, down 8 percent over last year; Wells Fargo at No. 3 with a brand value of $58.5 million, down 1 percent; GE at No. 4 with a brand value of $54.1 million, down 9 percent; and UPS at No. 5 with a brand value of $49.8 million, down 4 percent.

BrandZ said the performance of the Top 20 reflects the challenges faced by the B2B sector over the last year, including financial pressures caused by slowing economies. In addition issues around the pace of digitalization, the ability to attract talent and the changing B2B audience (46 percent are now millennials) made it harder to retain customers, differentiate from competitors and engage decision-makers. The B2B businesses that successfully increased their value this year were those that shifted focus and resources from developing products to building their brands and creating a great customer experience, Brand Z said.

"The importance of being a strong brand extends beyond the end-user,” said Christina Jenkins, LinkedIn's director of Global Go-To-Market Research. “B2B businesses are in a constant battle with consumer companies to hire the best employees. The brands that convey a positive impression about themselves, and in particular their ability to innovate, are more likely to be considered as potential employers."

BrandZ said its data shows that people perceive B2B brands as more responsible and better to work for than B2C brands, but less dynamic, innovative and differentiated.

"B2B businesses are starting to pay real attention to their brands now, recognizing that this has helped their B2C counterparts achieve significant value increases,” said Ben Lloyd, head of Millward Brown Corporate. “If they can strengthen their brands by thinking in new ways they'll be in a better position to withstand the macro factors affecting the categories they operate in, connect with their target audience, and attract talent. Developing strong and meaningful brand communications and focusing on the customer experience have a vital role to play here–many B2B brands that are highly innovative are not perceived as such by the audience."

Check out the full ranking below.

Brand Z Top 20 Most Valuable B2B Brands