The Nissan brand grew more strongly internationally in 2010 than any other automotive brand, according to the Millward Brown Optimor-devised "BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands" report.

Key to the 17 per cent acceleration in Nissan's brand value growth was the arrival of the Leaf electric car (European Car of the Year 2011 and World Car of the Year 2011), launched in the United States and some European countries as well as Japan in 2010.

Given the momentum behind the roll-out of the Nissan Leaf and greater awareness and demand for electric vehicles, Nissan expects to continue in its upward trajectory in 2011 as discussion focuses on the 2012 launch of the Nissan Leaf in New Zealand and Australia.

The Nissan brand momentum was also recognised as equal highest in its automotive peer group, underlining the intrinsic appeal of the Nissan product offering across the various segments, from the new global light car Micra, to the new-generation Nissan Patrol.

The report says it is vital for companies to "embrace brand stewardship as a critical competency for building long-term financial value".

It concludes the uplift in brand values across the automotive sphere was driven by an industry recovering from the global financial crisis by making cars that met consumer demand and understanding the new digital age.

"Shoppers spent more time researching online and relying on third-party comments as car marketing adjusted to the digital age. Fuel efficiency became a hygiene factor," the report says.

One of the strongest automotive conclusions drawn by the report's writers is that "innovation is easy to say, but hard to do".

The report continues: "But consumers expect leading brands to deliver the future."

This is the sixth annual edition of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report.