If you’ve never thought about which brands you feel the most “intimate” about, don’t worry; there’s an advertising firm out there that’s measuring it for you. The firm MBLM (pronounced emblem) has posted its annual survey of Brand Intimacy, measuring how connected people feel to the world’s biggest companies. The survey used “big data and AI” to examine over 600 brands across 19 industries. Once the analysis is complete it spits out a Brand Intimacy Quotient for each brand.
Disney took top honors in the survey this year, dethroning Apple, which moved down to the number three spot. Telsa moved up to second, leapfrogging the Cupertino juggernaut. What’s interesting is last year Amazon and Google were second and third. This year Amazon is 18th, and Google is a surprising 50th. Google shouldn’t feel too bad though, as two of its brands — YouTube and Android — were in the top ten. Other notable inclusions are Nvidia at 20th, AMD at 56th, and Intel way down in 83rd.
The methodology used to come up with the rankings is a bit esoteric but the rankings include detailed information on each company’s customers’ level of attraction. For example it found 40 percent of people who write about Tesla online feel a sense of intimacy towards the company. In contrast, 62.7 percent of Apple customers feel intimate about it despite Tesla ranking higher. This is due to many factors influencing how people feel about a brand. There’s also a multi-stage process people go through when forming a bond with a company. It’s akin to how people form bonds in the real world, with various stages, a process of gaining trust, feeling assured by a brand, etc.
As an example of one of these factors, there’s a thing called Fusing. In the survey methodology it’s described as follows: Fusing occurs when a person and a brand are inexorably linked and CO-IDENTIFIED (emphasis theirs). This is why Apple includes stickers with its devices, so people can proudly tell other people they use their products. There’s also different ways to characterize a relationship with a company. Some examples include a product that’s part of a daily ritual, such as your morning commute. Others include attaching to a product due to indulgence or nostalgia.
If you’re wondering why any of this matters, you just have to follow the money. MBLM writes, “Top intimate brands consistently outperform major financial indices across profit, revenue, and stock price.” It’s also trying to market its services to clients here. We know this sounds a bit weird. Still, it’s not wrong to admit we really love certain pieces of gear.
At their best, these kinds of relationships are fairly earned. At their worst, they allow companies to get away with poor customer service or quality control for far too long. The fact that Amazon and Google have fallen so precipitously is interesting, though it’s less surprising that Apple and Tesla would rise in the ranks. Both companies are known for having strong, long-term fan bases.