What is it about a company that draws you in? What creates that stickiness, that loyalty, that intangible need, bringing you back again and again, while sharing it with your friends and talking about it?

At Prophet we think it is relevance. Not cool brands or valuable brands, but something more tenable: relevant brands. We know that relevant brands engage, surprise and connect with audiences. They delight, disrupt and deliver what the customer needs.

Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index: United Kingdom

Prophet launched the Brand Relevance Index in the UK for the first time in late 2016. The development of this consumer facing research project has allowed Prophet to establish the role that relevance plays in the growth of a business. The spectrum of relevance was assessed, tested and created, and through examining consumer response we identified some compelling results. As we scan the top 50 relevant brands in the UK, we can see that there are some interesting inclusions.

Yet, I am most interested by the conspicuous absentees.

In rounding up the usual suspects, you can make a reasonable assumption that the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google will rate well – and of course, they did.

But can you find a telco carrier, an auto brand or a high-street bank in the top 50? These are services that have been found wanting, and yet, judged irrelevant! In everyday life, the useful and tangible have been supplanted by the more ephemeral: by services and software.

Banks

Why is that? Why is your bank, the organisation you trust with your money so irrelevant? The venerable old bank I have used for the last 25 years, HSBC, just scrapes into the top 200, surrounded by its peers of poor performers.

Investigating the data, the expectation that consumers have becomes clear – banks need to innovate, be reactive, understand individuals and create contemporary services to allow for a greater ease of use.

However, this does marry up to the popular perception of the banking sector – we tolerate it because we have to. Those financial brands that polled well – PayPal and Visa – have taken steps to make their service relevant, easy to use and importantly, customer focused.

This is what Nick Hungerford of Nutmeg asserted at our launch event – there’s a necessity to truly understand what your customers need and want, rather than the continual repackaging of the same old confusing products. It creates an interesting opportunity for the right company as my colleague Felicia Rosenzweig noted.

Mobile Networks

Similarly, derisory are our results when we look at mobile networks. We have ranked handset providers highly, they are indispensable things in our everyday experience; yet, the means of transmission is totally irrelevant to us. They are a means to an end, not offering enough to engage or inspire, they just are. They do not innovate, they are not customer centric and they do little to engage.

Even long-established, institutional brands stay relevant when they place customers at the centre of the conversations and the experience. During an interview, Jane Lingham of the BBC made this point, saying this is something she is constantly driving towards on every platform.

Auto Brands

A sector in a noted state of flux is the auto industry. With so much being written and shared about new models of ownerships, new fuel technology and  , we can see it is a sector that is being forced to innovate. Yet in the UK, the top ranking car brand Ford fell just short of the top 50 – being seen as solidly reliable, with little else to note.

That said, when we look at the Brand Relevance Index in both Germany and China, auto manufacturers fare much better, particularly the higher-end German brands.

Relevant Brands Need to Evolve with Customers

The BRI focuses on four criteria which allow for an interesting snapshot of the consumer market internationally:

  1. Customer Obsession: Meets an important need in their life, such that they can’t imagine living without it
  2. Ruthlessly Pragmatic: Makes life easier – is dependable, consistent and available when they need it
  3. Distinctively Inspired: Has a purpose they believe in – is trustworthy, inspiring, modern and in-touch
  4. Pervasively Innovative: Pushes the status quo – has better products and services, engages customers in creative ways and finds new ways to meet their needs.

When BRI was launched in the UK, we invited some friends of the firm to join us to talk about relevance in light of their own organisations, markets and the challenges faced in remaining relevant as consumer patterns and appetites evolve.

Hear from Jane Lingham, Head of Brand at the BBC and Nick Hungerford, Founder of Nutmeg about the importance of relevance for brands in this swiftly evolving and competitive market.

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