Google is the world’s strongest brand in 2010, for the fourth straight year, according to a study released recently by research firm Millward Brown Optimor. Analyzing the world’s strongest brands, the fifth annual “BrandZ Top 100 report” examined consumer opinions and market data on brands to assign each one a certain value and then translated that value into dollars to rank the top 100. Tech companies took the top four spots with No. 1 Google followed by IBM, Apple, and Microsoft. Google, IBM, and Apple all grew in brand value from 2009, noted Millward Brown, even amid a recession. Overall, the tech sector was one of the few business categories to show growth from 2009, rising 6 percent based on continued spending from both companies and consumers. Sustainability, social responsibility, and trust were among the key concerns in driving brand loyalty. Among other tech brands on the list, Hewlett-Packard came in at No. 12, RIM’s BlackBerry was No. 14, Amazon.com was No. 15, and Oracle was No. 19. Although it didn’t make the top 100 list, Facebook debuted in the tech sector for the first time with a brand dollar value of USD 5.5 billion. Beyond that, the study found that social media itself was a growing trend among companies looking to build brand awareness.