Apple named world's coolest brand as technology dominates 2012 hip list

From a knighthood for its design chief to the distinction of being recognised as the most valuable company the world has ever known, Apple has achieved a fair few milestones throughout its generally illustrious history.

Now, the iconic US firm has another notch on its corporate bedpost: it's perceived as the coolest brand in the world, at least according to the annual CooldBrands survey.

Based on the opinions of some 3,000 British consumers and a panel of 39 key UK influencers, the 2012 report judges Apple to be the most with-it brand out there, with the Californian technology giant nabbing the hipness crown off of luxury automotive manufacturer Aston Martin.

Indeed, half of the list's Top 20 is made up of technology and media brands – compared to just a quarter in 2011 - with Google-owned video-sharing portal YouTube rising from the periphery of the Top 10 to nab the number two spot off of the British car maker.

Aston Martin is now relegated to the third spot, with Twitter – who didn't even make the Top 20 last year - coming out of nowhere to grab the fourth spot, and Google up three places to round out the top five.

That means that four of the world's five coolest brands now reside in the tech industry, a 100 per cent increase from 2011 when only two such companies made their way into the upper echelons of perceived hipness.

"It is interesting that in this age of austerity our perception of cool has increasingly shifted from aspirational, luxury brands to free or more affordable brands that provide us with pleasure. The presence of the online brands like BBC iPlayer, Twitter, YouTube and Skype are a great case in point," said Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands Expert Council.

"Whether watching our favourite shows online, sharing opinions, viewing comedy clips or speaking with friends from across the world, these brands bring us inexpensive entertainment and enjoyment that we appreciate and value highly," he added.

BBC iPlayer, Bang & Olufsen, Sony, Bose, Skype, and Nikon also made the cut and feature in the Top 20, while BlackBerry – the sixth coolest brand in 2011's survey – unsurprisingly drops out of the field completely, and social networking giant Facebook again fails to get a seat with a cool kids at lunch.

Factors taken into account by the Expert Council include innovation, originality, style, authenticity, desirability and uniqueness. The panel includes chart-topping Brighton rap-pop duo Rizzle Kicks, multi-talented East London artist Plan B, actress-cum-fashionista Sadie Frost, and self-styled 'punk chef' Gizzie Erskine.