Online businesses could benefit from strengthening their brand, one expert has said, following the release of Apple’s fourth quarter results, showing the company’s most profitable quarter ever.

Director and chief executive of The Centre for Brand Analysis Steven Cheliotis noted that firms that had invested in enhancing their brand before the downturn fared better financially and recovered quicker than those that had not.

He remarked that, in an industry where "service is quick and product innovation is swift", there is little to set providers apart other than "the brand and the reputation" – suggesting those in online PR may profit from focusing on this.

Referring to Apple’s favourable figures, Mr Charlton said: "A good brand exists to do two things," adding it allows businesses to sell more products and at a higher premium.

In its statement, Apple revealed revenue of $9.87 billion (£6.01 billion) and a net quarterly profit of $1.67 billion.

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