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Enduring Brands Top 2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend List: Visa, Michelin, Craftsman, Subway, Target and More Take Brand of the Year Honors

Many Top-Ranked Brands Owe Their Success to Connectivity, Study Finds

The brands Americans love say a lot about how they live. In 2015, classic trusted brands increasingly comingle with "connected" Internet brands based on the top brands in the 2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend study, an annual study of brands.

Something Old

Twelve brands have been ranked #1 in equity within their respective categories for 5 or more years in a row, and many of these scored in the top 10% of all brands measured in the study in 2015. These brands cover a range of categories, from sandwich shops (Subway), to mass merchandisers (Target), paint (KILZ), to greeting cards (Hallmark).

"Brands that build and keep their promise over time—and develop strong differentiation—stay relevant for the long term," said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at Harris Poll, in a news release. "Strong brand equityhas value and can sustain companies through hard times. Target remains one of America’s most esteemed brands despite the data breach in 2014, and consumers are willing to give it a chance to rebound."

Brands with Staying Power: Tops in their categories for five or more consecutive years

Something New

A look at the top non-CPG brands* rated in the study magnifies the importance of technology and connectivity in simplifying and enhancing American lives. Four of the top-ranked brands owe their success to connectivity: Amazon.com, Netflix, PayPal and YouTube

"The degree to which connectivity has shifted brand building from something that happens over time to something that can happen in short order is amazing," Sinopoli said. "That’s not to say that Amazon or Netflix are comets—they have done careful planning, picked where and how to expand, and developed smart product strategies to help challenge conventional wisdom and quickly become part of how we live our lives today. That’s what branding is all about: making human connections with everyday life."

The Next Big Thing: Mobile Wallets

As technology continues transforming financial services, for the first time, the study measured mobile payments. Despite category fragmentation and limited familiarity across brands, the category is poised to transform very quickly. PayPal, the established "click and pay" brand, leads direct competitors by a wide margin.

What does the future hold? The study shows that any wallet associated with Amazon.com, Google, Apple and major credit card providers gains a solid level of familiarity courtesy of the parent brand, as well as strong quality perceptions and a predisposition to try.

"Market fragmentation, rolling rebranding, and merchants waiting for the shakeout before investing in systems has gotten in the way of adoption," said Sinopoli. "When one of these brands gets the execution right and merchant acceptance hits critical mass, consumers appear ready to jump on board. Visa has changed its mobile wallet branding from V.me to Visa Checkout. Mastercard‘s PayPass is now MasterPass. Both payment cards are strong financial brands, and clearly the intent is to extend that esteem and solidity to these product extensions," said Sinopoli.

From an equity perspective, within the financial services sector, payment cards have not been impacted by the recession. Visa has held its position as the top ranked payment card for five years running.

See a full list of EquiTrend 2015 Brands of the Year here.

* Given the large number of CPG brands, EquiTrend will address them in a separate fielding later in 2015.

The EquiTrend Brand Equity Index is comprised of three key factors—Familiarity, Quality and Consideration—that result in a brand equity rating for each brand. Brands that rank highest in Equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend "Brand of the Year" award for their category. For this, the 27th annual study, more than 38,000 Americans assessed over 1,400 brands across 148 categories. 

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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