Apple's brand has pushed Microsoft and General Motors out of a prestigious annual survey of brand power that is conducted by Harris Interactive.

Apple entered the list in tenth place. Sony ranked as the best brand in the world, the researchers said, followed by Dell and Coca-Cola. HP took the number six slot.

Apple's arrival in the top ten pushed out two brands: Microsoft and General Motors. Last year the top ten contained eleven brands, as two tied for the same place.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,351 adults across the US, asking them simply to think for a moment and name the three brands they consider the best. The company did not provide a list of choices, it said.

Strong brand recognition has helped Sony, which is in the midst of a turnaround under Howard Stringer, the chief executive officer appointed in the middle of last year. One of the company's latest hits in the US has been its Bravia LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs.

Of the remaining top ten, three were auto makers: Toyota, Ford and Honda; and the remaining two were conglomerate General Electric and food giant Kraft Foods.