Which are 2009's superbrands?

The top 500 consumer brands and top 500 B2B brands in the UK have today been announced by Superbrands, the 14-year-old independent brand analyser that annually determines the most popular corporate brands.

And the rivalry between Google and Microsoft we reported yesterday will be hotting up even more - Microsoft takes the number one spot as consumers’ most beloved brand (knocking Google off the top and relegating it to third place), while Google takes the top spot in the B2B listings.

Among consumers, the top 10 is as follows, in order: Microsoft, Rolex, Google, British Airways, BBC, Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola, Lego, Apple and, interestingly and newly this high, Encyclopaedia Britannica. (View the full 500 here.)

The top 10 business brands are, in order: Google, Rolls-Royce Group, Sony, Microsoft, Nokia, GlaxoSmithKline, London Stock Exchange, Michelin, BP and Bupa. (View the full 500 here.)

Brands are judged on their quality, reliability (can the brand be trusted to deliver consistently against its promises and maintain product and service standards at all customer touch points?) and distinction (is the brand not only well known in its sector but suitably differentiated from its competitors? Does it have a personality and values that make it unique within its market place?). The list is drawn up and assessed first by a select council, then opened up to either a public or business professionals vote.

The BBC notes that ‘some of the [consumer] brands which showed the strongest year-on-year improvement in the survey include McDonald's, which rises 227 places, Burger King, up 189 places, KFC rising by 164 and Domino's Pizza, which moves up by 144 places’.

No huge surprise there – during a recession, consumers regularly indulge in small, cheap treats to cheer themselves up and out of the fact they can’t afford the vastly more expensive things they want or need (a phenomonen known as the ‘lipstick index’, since women buy more lipsticks during hard economic times for a little mood-booster).

Can’t get the house you’ve dreamed of and been saving for for seven years? Here, have a McFlurry.

In a similar vein, budget-friendly supermarket Morrisons entered the top 500 consumer list for the first time – although Sainsbury’s was the only supermarket to make it into the top 100. Probably, we think, for its continued focus on catering for a broad range of budgets in perhaps the most effective way of any of the supermarket brands (Basics, normal and other brand food, Taste the Difference) combined with an ongoing media campaign that has been given an extra edge with its 140th anniversary this year.

The business brands list has revealed itself to be in some ways more discerning than the consumer top 500. Whereas British Airways stays at number four in consumers’ eyes and the Beeb holds high at five, in the B2B rankings news of internal conflict and numerous public boo-boos have seen BA drop 28 places to 36 and BBC Worldwide go nine pegs down to 15.

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