What makes a brand? March 26, 2019

What makes a brand?

For a number of years, Edentify has been asking new members of our Caféstudy research community about their favourite brands. This has given us a fascinating insight into the brands that people can really relate to.

When we looked at the results recently, we saw a clear list of the top 10 favourite brands:

1. Apple
2. Nike
3. Cadbury
4. Nescafe
5. Samsung
6. Adidas
7. Moccona
8. Coles
9. Sony
10. Woolworths

This list raises a couple of thoughts and issues.

The brands that are missing from this list are as interesting as those that are there. Bunnings, Qantas, Coca Cola, Google, and Amazon for example are some of the best-known brands in Australia and globally, however they don’t make our top 10, while not one but 2 brands of instant coffee do!

The explanation for this lies in the nature of the question. By asking, unprompted, for people to nominate their favourite brands we learn which brands are the ones that make a tangible impact on people’s lives and that they could not live without. It prompts an instinctive and emotional response.

It means we have a list that highlights brands that people like because they keep them connected (Apple, Samsung); that they use every day (Coles, Woolworths); that help them express themselves (Nike, Adidas, Sony); and brands that they can truly enjoy (Cadbury, Nescafe, Moccona).

Most of all, this list demonstrates that a brand is much more than the sum of its parts, and shows us that the emotional bonds people have with brands are stronger than the rational. It is these emotional bonds that make brands more salient, and keep people coming back.

This research also raises fundamental questions about what brands actually are. By most measures, Google stands out as one of, if not the, leading brand globally. However, it has barely rated a mention in our research. This suggests that our idea of what a brand is may be different to the average person, and that brands without a tangible product – which includes a host of newer tech-based brands – represent something different altogether. This will present a challenge to start-up brands in the years to come.

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