Working with brands every day, we can get lost in all the ways to measure and monitor them. To best help them grow, we need to take a step back to remember why we get excited about brands in the first place. We at Clear wanted to get back to the heart of what brands do and why they matter: creating desire.
We asked ourselves a simple question: Which brands are the most desired, and what is it that makes one brand more desirable than another? Then we spoke to 17,000 people across the globe to find out.
We surveyed people in the United States, the U.K., Germany, Singapore and China, using a sample nationally representative of each market. With the hypothesis that a desirable brand should make us think, feel and act differently, we asked people to respond to statements that referred to each of those elements -- for example, "A brand I respect" and "A brand I feel attracted to."
We also asked respondents to profile brand personality, using a bipolar scale: for example, reliable vs. risk-taking and modern vs. traditional. What resulted was a ranking of the top 100 most desirable brands, globally and for each studied market, a set of consumer segments based on the brands they most desire, and a set of rich data that allows us to examine brands, competitors and categories to determine what makes them desirable -- or not. We looked at the brands on global- and country-specific levels and identified the global top 10 most-desired brands. Here's what we found.
The fact that five out of the top 10 brands are technology brands raises the question: Is it technology that people desire? That is possible for some people, but for the majority we would argue that it is what technology enables that is truly desirable.
Looking to the U.S. top 10 most-desired brands, we see some nuances specific to the country:
- Trader Joe's
- Seventh Generation
What, then, makes a brand desirable for U.S. consumers?
Personality: The foundations of good brand-building still apply: be simple and focused. Developing a brand positioning that is simple, yet powerful, and communicating this in a way that is consistent, creates desire. Trader Joe's personality is approachable, open-minded and considerate, yet fun and confident, clearly distinguishing itself within the category.
Brand-building innovation: Brands that scored highly on the desirability scale have innovation that is informed by and builds on the brand's equities. Look at Nintendo and Wii: When the other console manufacturers were moving to powerful hardware and online gaming, Nintendo stayed true to its heritage and focused on family and in-home multiplayer games. The Wii tapped into different consumer segments and changed the way that we interact with consoles, as seen by the launch of the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinetic.
Mission: Across the top brands are a significant number that have a clear mission, from Seventh Generation inspiring a more conscious and sustainable world, to Disney creating imaginative experiences for kids and their families. We see this in the brand personalities that most frequently underpin the most desirable brands: open-minded, considerate, optimistic and confident. Demonstrating clearly what you are doing for the consumer, their community and/or wider concerns is key to desirability.
Adapting to new behaviors: In the last couple of years, the U.S. has gone through some fundamental cultural changes that have reshaped what people look for from brands.
Accessible pleasures: Many of the most-desired brands offer pleasure to consumers that can be experienced every day and be shared with others (M&M's).
Community-focused: Whether helping people together through online gaming (PlayStation) or taking care of the planet (Method), brands that "do more" are desirable.
Simple: At a time when financial services are generally the least-desirable brands, ING rises above, offering uncomplicated banking (USAA ranks at 40 and ING was 130; the next banks were Bank of America at position 175 and Wachovia at 192. Others were even further down the list.)
Understanding how consumers see you in terms of desire means understanding which levers to pull in order to make yourself more desirable. And, frankly, it pays. We measured the top 100 against the S&P 500, and discovered that the most-desirable brands had consistently higher return on investment and share growth.