I have written and spoken on the importance of having brand energy, organizational values, a brand personality, and a point of difference so compelling that it forms a new subcategory. What is also true, is that a brand can develop substantial loyalty by just doing its job. Just do the basics: Deliver the brand promise. Don’t screw up and provide a reason to consider the competition. It turns out that people like brands that work…and question those that don’t.

I was again reminded of this fact when analyzing the Prophet Brand Relevance Index™. The 2016 U.S. survey tested the relevance of 325 top brands from 29 categories using respondents that were active in the category and familiar with the brand. The survey ranks brands across four dimensions: Innovation, Customer Obsession, Inspiration and Pragmatism. Two surprising results emerged regarding the Ruthlessly Pragmatic dimension, which measured ease-of-use and dependability.

Two Surprising Results from Top Pragmatic Brands

Fourteen of the top 25 brands measured on the Ruthlessly Pragmatic dimension were commonly used consumer brands such as Clorox (3), Ziploc (5), Band Aid (8), Tide (9), VISA (12), Crest (13), Kleenex (14), Dove (15), Betty Crocker (20), KitchenAid (22), Colgate (23), and Campbell’s (24). Nine of these ranked in the top 25 on trust, as well. All of these brands were in the top 75 on the overall relevance scale, ten were in the top 50 and 3 in the top 25. It is rather incongruous to see some commonplace, older brands that are not known for being dynamic (although if you look closely, they are innovating at a rapid pace) in such a rarified atmosphere. However, they all deliver on their promise, rarely disappoint and have earned remarkable brand strength.

An even more surprising result, is the Ruthlessly Pragmatic dimension’s power among high-tech brands, the strongest in the survey. In fact, four of the top six brands in the survey were tech companies: Apple (1), Amazon (2), Android (3) and Google (6). We expect these brands to be strong, driven by the other dimensions such being pervasively innovative, customer obsessed or distinctively inspired. But it turns out that the ability to deliver in an easy, reliable manner is one of the qualities that pushes these brands to the top.

Amazon, who leads the retail segment by a huge margin, gets the highest marks from consumers for being available and dependable. To run such a complex service and do it so well, living up to the brand promise, is really astonishing and the company is rewarded with brand strength. The Apple iPhone and Android are visible and functionally enable customers due to their role in people’s lives. Google is given difficult assignments by their users and nearly always comes through with their search, maps and more. And both just work. Netflix’s platform is engaging and easier to use than others, delivering on another complex task. All these brands deserve a lot of credit for simplifying a complex offering and making it work so well.

I am reminded of a book, Simply Better by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan. In the book, the authors argued that success is achieved by delivering basic category benefits better than others. Even for complex or high-tech product and services, strategy is second tier to exceptional execution and consistently delivering positive customer experiences.

There is much to be said for sticking to the basics of a brand to deliver its promise. That task should be first priority and can be used to create brand strength through loyalty, and also a lack of a reason to change. It can also be the platform for other customer connections that will drive growth and yield an even stronger brand.

The strongest brands are the ones that are relentlessly relevant and making a difference in consumers’ lives. Find out why Prophet ranks based on relevance.

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