Think about the products and services that make a genuine difference in your life. The brands that aren’t just familiar names; they are fundamental to your daily activities, almost indispensable. It’s those brands that make maintaining a connection with their customers a top priority (and never take that relationship or loyalty for granted) – the ones we at Prophet call relentlessly relevant brands.

Each year we ask consumers to rank the brands that are most relevant in their lives. Their answers make up the results of our Prophet Brand Relevance IndexTM. In 2017, we surveyed nearly 13,500 U.S. customers about 275 brands in 27 industries. When we looked at the highest performers from this year’s Index, we observed that they have five ways of continually reinventing themselves.

5 Ways America’s Most Relevant Brands Stay On Top

When we looked at the highest performers, we observed that they have five ways of continually reinventing themselves. The top brands have the commitment to stay ahead of customer needs and market trends—and they have the discipline to execute on the insights they develop. These insights form the foundation for ideas that become game-changing innovations.

1. Reshaping experiences and expectations

Amazon has invested heavily in re-training consumers in how to stock up on household staples through offerings like Amazon Basics, Prime Pantry and Prime Now. Amazon Go, when opened in Seattle earlier this year, was hard to miss as people posted photos of themselves standing in line, boasting about their experience (at the store that promised you wouldn’t have to wait in line!). It’s the latest offering from the brand that always has consumers wondering what’s next.  These innovations have driven ever-greater expectations for price and convenience, reshaping the way consumers expect to experience the grocery experience. Amazon ranks as the #2 brand in “makes my life easier” and the #3 brand in “I can’t imagine living without” in our Index.

2. Creating new products, services and experiences

Paypal has consistently won over customers by simplifying, and essentially, re-creating the digital checkout process. It continues to update its digital tools to make mobile payments easier for both small business owners and consumers. It’s outperforming traditional payments brands like Visa (#63) and MasterCard (#119). Customers rank PayPal as #4 in “makes my life easier” and #6 in “is available when and where I need it”.

In a year of airlines making headlines for mistreatment of passengers, Southwest’s reputation for transparency, flexibility and fairness shines brighter than ever. Southwest gives the air travel experience a uniquely human touch, highlighting empathy in its policies and using messaging with language like “love” and “heart”. Southwest is the only airline in the top 50, scoring dramatically higher than the next best airline, Alaska Airlines at #182.

3. Innovating the old and the new

Tide is a household staple that commands a premium for providing a consistent, dependable clean. Product innovations stay close to the core, evolving the definition of what “clean” truly means, from eco-friendly to gentle on skin. The brand ranks #2 in “I know I can depend on” and #2 in “I trust”.

BAND-AID has a name that defines the bandage category, and remains true to its roots of consistent, reliable quality. It deepens and enriches customer trust with niche innovations that meet specific customer needs (high heels) or provide benefits (antibacterial). It’s no wonder it ranks #1 in “I know I can depend on” and #1 in “I trust”.

4. Facilitating experiences wherever you are

Dynamic, AI-driven content feeds create an intuitive environment for consumers to narrow in on exactly what they want to see. Pinterest was the frontrunner in making images the entry point for all types of content discovery, including recipes, articles, e-commerce, etc. The brand ranks as #1 in “engages me in new and creative ways” and #1 in “makes me feel inspired” and was the only social media brand to crack the top 50.

Spotify excels in highly personalized recommendations based on musical genre, time of day and social/cultural context. Offerings like “Discover Weekly” or “Your Summer Rewind” give every user an experience that is unique to them. Their subscriber base is over twice that of Apple Music. It ranks #4 in “makes me happy” – who doesn’t love that?

5. Creating a win-win

Waze gives users a direct payoff for sharing their data, by crowdsourcing real-time traffic information and translating it into clear time-saving feedback. Data collected through the collaboration of a community of users enables them to stand out from major mapping players like Apple and Google. The brand ranks #5 in “has a purpose I believe in” and #14 in “makes my life easier”.

FitBit provides customers with direct insights about their own bodies that range from personal wellness data to cardio fitness scores to sleep cycle capture. This fuels people’s aspirations and encourages long-term use by recognizing their achievements. It ranks #2 in “has a purpose I believe in” and #5 in “distinctively inspired”.

The strongest brands, the ones that will continue to win, are those that are relentlessly relevant and are making a difference in consumers’ lives.

Want to learn more about how top brands are nurturing brand relevance? Read more in the 2017 Brand Relevance Index

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