The rankings, compiled by market research firm Millward Brown, also put Google ahead of well-established brands like General Electric Co., No. 2; Coca-Cola Co., No. 4; Wal-Mart Stores, No. 7; and IBM, No. 9.
Some key factors seen this year in building brand recognition ranged from corporate responsibility to serving customers in emerging markets like Brazil and India, according to the study.
The top-ranked brand from a non-U.S.-based company was China Mobile, which dropped a spot but still came in at No. 5.
The rankings were based on publicly available financial data along with primary research, including interviews with a million consumers worldwide, Millward Brown said.
For Google, which ranked No. 7 a year ago, the jump to the top underscores how quickly the Web search leader has become an everyday name. The company uses relatively little advertising, instead relying on word-of-mouth promotion.
By contrast, Microsoft's slide down to third place from first comes even as the software company has been rolling out its new Windows Vista operating system with a massive global marketing blitz.
Eileen Campbell, global chief executive of Millward Brown, said the rankings showed "a blend of good business leadership, responsible financial management and powerful marketing ... can be leveraged to create and grow corporate wealth."
Some of the other big movers on the list included Apple Inc.. which rose 13 spots to No. 16 and Starbucks Corp., which rose 13 spots to No. 35. Those losing ground in the brand rankings included Intel Corp., Home Depot Inc. and Dell Inc.
Millward Brown is a unit of WPP Group and the findings were published in cooperation with the Financial Times.
2. GE (General Electric)
4. Coca Cola (*)
5. China Mobile
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