For the second year in a row, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is the most valuable brand in the world. That's according to market research company Kantar and advertising firm WPP, who together compile the annual BrandZ report on the top 100 companies in the world by brand value.

BrandZ estimates Amazon's value at nearly $416 billion, well ahead of No. 2 Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), at $352 billion. Amazon's figure has grown quickly and steeply -- its 2020 level is 32% higher than in 2019. That year, the big retailer also took the No. 1 position (as in 2020, Apple was No. 2 then).

Two people walking in front of an Amazon Go store.

Image source: Amazon.com.

As a group, the BrandZ Top 100 managed to grow its collective brand value by $277 billion over the 2019 level. 

Kantar said in a press release that "[w]e see a significant improvement in brand equity now compared to 10 years ago because businesses understand the importance of investing in brand-building and are stronger and more resilient as a result."

Kantar believes this will carry many of them over the current rough patch. "While the impact of COVID-19 has impacted every business regardless of size or geography, consistent investment in marketing can and will help carry you through a crisis," it said.

Many of the companies on the list also presently benefit from having a strong digital presence. In Amazon's case, as the top online retailer in the world, customers conduct business with it remotely. Although Apple draws much revenue through hardware sales, it also rings up sales in music, apps, films, etc., which are paid for and delivered digitally.

As if to reinforce the BrandZ findings, shares of both Amazon and Apple rose on Tuesday, the former beating the main equity indexes with a 2.9% rise, and the latter lagging behind them at 0.8%