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How do you measure the power of a brand? At Forbes, it is function of financial strength and consumer perceptions. The most powerful brands thrive in both areas.

Apple.  The value of the Apple brand has soared 52 percent over the past two years with the success of the iPhone and iPad. Global consumers give Microsoft higher marks in perception study done by Landor, but Apple's significantly higher brand value makes it the world's most powerful brand.

Microsoft.  Surprise! Microsoft gets the highest consumer perception scores in a global survey of 2,000 adults. Consumers credit Microsoft on things like "positively impacting lives on a daily basis" and "addresses my unique needs." The value of the brand is down 3 percent, however, over the past two years, ranking it No. 2 overall behind Apple.

Coca-Cola.  A brand that is fighting an uphill battle in the US as soda gets part of the blame for the obesity problem in the country, but the company still sold 26.7 billion cases of soda worldwide in 2011. Half of those sales are for the Coca-Cola brand. Brand loving Warren Buffett owns the biggest stake in the company, $15 billion, through his firm Berkshire Hathaway.

IBM.  The brand entered a death spiral in the early 1990s as the company was perceived as a tech hardware dinosaur. But IBM has reinvented itself over the past two decades as a powerful brand in tech as a software and services giant.

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