Google was getting used to wearing the crown as the world's most valuable brand. That is, until Apple knocked it off.

The Cupertino company's brand value jumped 84 percent to $153.3 billion, dropping Mountain View's Google, which topped the list for the past four years, to No. 2, with a measly $111.5 billion (-2%), according to this year's rankings from the WPP Group, a global advertising and marketing company.

"Successful iterations of existing products like the iPhone, creation of the tablet category with iPad, and anticipation of a broadened strategy making the brand a trifecta of cloud computing, software and innovative, well-designed devices," was the stated judgment of the WPP's sixth annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.

Ten Bay Area companies made the list, with San Francisco's Wells Fargo ranked 16th with an estimated brand value of $36.9 million, a 97 percent increase (what financial meltdown?). HP, at No. 18, dropped 11 percent to $35.4 billion, closely followed by San Francisco's Visa and Redwood City's Oracle.

The biggest percentage gainer (246 percent) is - surprise - Palo Alto's Facebook, valued at $19.1 billion. Not bad for a company that's yet to go public. Rounding out the Bay Area contingent this year are San Jose's Cisco Systems, Santa Clara's Intel and San Jose's eBay.

Non-Bay Area items of note: Amazon.com beat Wal-Mart as the world's leading retail brand. Twelve Chinese brands made the top 100, including the Chinese search engine Baidu, ranked No. 29, with a 141 percent increase in value, to $22.6 billion.

Oh, and Toyota reclaimed its crown as the world's top car brand, demonstrating "the power of strong brands to recover from the most fundamental challenges to product efficacy and reputation

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