Study: Emotional connection key to brand longevity

This year’s FutureBrand Index examines strong global brands and finds with COVID-19, now more than ever, brands have to forge a strong emotional connection

The FutureBrand Index 2020 has just been released, the first comprehensive global study into the perception of global brands since the outbreak of COVID-1. And the findings show well-perceived companies can consistently align the full picture of the experiences they create with their wider corporate purpose.

FutureBrand AU CEO, Rich Curtis, told CMO brands that develop and deliver distinctive strategies and unconventional thinking perform more strongly than other brands. And in 2020, it’s strongly related to the coronavirus pandemic that has profoundly affected people’s lives and the new demands or expectations which have been placed upon how people buy, work, play, study and live.

“We can see in this study that those brands able to take the opportunity to stand apart, and do so in a way that is authentic to who they are and what they do, outperform other brands,” Curtis said.

Curtis cited the example of Netflix, which has moved beyond being a technology outfit or a streaming business, and has successfully built an emotional connection with customers through a distinctive strategy to market.

The FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap on perception strength rather than financial strength. One theme stood out beyond all others, and that is individuality. The report said it’s a quality that distinguishes an entity from others of the same kind. 

The research was conducted during the initial weeks of lockdown, as the world adjusted to a new way of living and working, to tap decision-makers about their thinking in the here and now and into the future.  

The Global Top 10

  1. Apple
  2. Reliance Industries
  3. Samsung
  4. Nvidia
  5. Kweichow Moutai
  6. Nike
  7. Microsoft
  8. ASML
  9. PayPal
  10. Netflix

The research has also identified several other themes common to companies with strong positive perceptions. Prioritising customers and their needs, even if it means forging a different path to rival firms, is one of these. And in a time of an ongoing health crisis, those companies in healthcare rate highly, along with those that care about employees as they do their customers, including a firm commitment to diversity and inclusion feature high up on the list.

Those companies which realise the true value of an open culture that fosters a happy and productive workforce and the ones that embrace innovation, change and agility to maintain resilience in the face of fast-moving, sector-specific, national and international events also have the right ingredients for positive brand perception.

In particular, Curtis said it’s about an organisation having a clear sense of purpose. With the COVID-19 context, it's especially important to have a clarity of purpose and mission.

“A good example of that is the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Because it has that clarity of purpose, people feel engaged and kind of bound on to that organisation. And it is able to communicate very openly and very authentically with its own employees about what is happening at the moment and what it is doing,” he explained to CMO.

Looking ahead, Curtis said for organisations to survive, and even thrive, throughout and beyond the pandemic where well-being and healthcare have been elevated, forging an emotional connection is all powerful.

“That is most certainly an enduring dynamic in building successful brands,” he added.

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