Sony Corp. was ranked the best brand in the U.S. for the seventh year in a row, Harris Interactive Inc. said Wednesday.

The company’s latest Harris Poll showed Dell Inc. retained its second-place ranking, followed by just two other IT companies, Hewlett-Packard Co. in sixth place and Apple Computer Inc., which entered the list in 10th place.

By comparison, the Coca-Cola Co., which is universally recognized as one of the leading global brands, came in third in the poll.

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 U.S. has been its Bravia LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs.

The nationwide Harris Poll surveyed 2,351 U.S. adults, 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.

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

Apple’s arrival in the top 10 pushed out two brands: Microsoft Corp. and General Motors Corp. Last year the top 10 contained 11 brands, as two tied for the same place.

Best Brands 2006

1. Sony

2. Dell

3. Coca-Cola

4. Toyota

5. Ford

7. Hewlett-Packard

8. General Electric

9. Kraft Foods

10. Apple Computer

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