Coca-Cola, Gatorade among major brands with significant staying power because they consistently deliver on its brand experience, remain relevant to consumers, survey says

NEW YORK , March 27, 2012 (press release) – Year after year, consumers identify superior brands as leaders in their industry, according to recent findings in the 2012 Harris Poll® EquiTrend® (EQ) study. While some brands score high in equity across one or two components, real staying power comes from being exceptional across the board. Perennial favorites continually surpass a highly competitive field of top consumer brands.

Still the One—Brands with Staying Power

This year EquiTrend assessed 1,500+ brands across more than 127 product categories, identifying 15 brands that have flexed their staying power "muscle" year after year and ranked number one in their respective categories every year since 2005 (when the current EquiTrend methodology began). Within this list are "mega-brands" that in essence came to define their respective categories. Mega-brands like Coca-Cola®, Craftsman®, Gatorade®, HBO®, and Life Savers® have significant staying power because each brand consistently delivers on its brand experience and remains relevant to today's consumers. Other perennial favorites who consistently lead their categories include Southwest Airlines® and Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts.

How do they do it? In examining the 127 top brands, these eight-time highest ranked brands stand out in one area more than any other – brand momentum. To have strong momentum, a brand must be seen as leader, be popular among friends and family, have high-levels of visibility, be exciting and engaging and be a brand that consumers believe has a bright future.

"These 15 top brands have consistently found a way to remain relevant and valuable to the consumer," said Aron Galonsky, Senior Vice President for Harris Interactive's Brand and Communication Consulting group. "It's not surprising why these perennial leaders continue stay on top. They continually deliver a consistent and balanced brand experience, year after year, that really resonates with the consumer."

While not yet eight-year category leaders, other prominent brands that are poised to lead and strengthen their categories are the Apple® iPad and iPhone, Google®, Android™ Amazon®'s Kindle, and the National Football League® – all of which showed strong signs of brand momentum. In addition, newcomers like Chobani® Greek Yogurt and the health non-profit organization, Stand Up To Cancer™, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, showed significant promise for the future.

Top Gainers

Although brand equity is generally slow moving, strong brands, once established, will typically maintain their brand momentum. For example, this year, Apple's iPhone continued its rise and became one of the top technology brands in EquiTrend. Other brands with strong year-over-year performance that garnered them a 2012 "Brand of the Year" distinction include Yamaha® Motorcycles, Glaceau vitaminwater®, BB&T Bank® and Physicians Formula Cosmetics®

A handful of financial services brands, such as The Vanguard Group®, TD Ameritrade®, ING Sharebuilder®, and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney®, were able to make progress in rehabilitating their equity. Finally, Toyota®'s ranking jumped up, a signal of its ongoing recovery from the damage from the "recall" crisis.

At Risk Brands

A few brands have suffered steep declines over the last year such as the scandal-rocked Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and a handful of financial services brands, including Credit Suisse Financial Services®, Bank of New York Mellon®, Amerigroup®, and Fannie Mae®. Other brands that fell include Groupon® which is seeing competition from this year's top ranked brand, Woot.com®, and Living Social®. Additionally, Carnival Cruise Lines®—the sister company of Costa Concordia, the cruise line with recent mishaps — and the Goodyear® Tire and Service Network—which was top ranked in 2011 — also dropped in the ranking. Several non-profits, like the National Kidney Foundation®, Sierra Club® and World Vision have also seen declines.

Meanwhile one-time technology mega-brand, BlackBerry®, suffered a huge drop as many corporations implement and incorporate a "bring-your-own-device" strategy, essentially "spec-ing out" BlackBerry by employees who favor other smart phone brands. BlackBerry's below average scores for brand momentum, a forward looking brand metric, suggest that unless they find a way to reinvigorate, they can expect further deterioration.

Brands of the Year

Within each respective category, the strongest brand rose to the top and based on their Equity Score, brands were ranked in ascending order. This year, 127 brands became a "Brand of the Year."

Harris Poll ®EquiTrend® methodology

A sample of 38,529 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over were surveyed online by Harris Interactive from January 31 through February 20, 2011 and the survey took an average of 40 minutes to complete. The sample was from the Harris Interactive online panel of respondents, a multimillion-member database consisting of cooperative respondents who have double-opted in to be randomly invited by Harris Interactive to take part in online surveys. The total number of brands rated was 1,529. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 40 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over based on age by sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online. This is the same precision weighting approach Harris has used to become the leading online polling organization when calling elections.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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