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rise and fall  header

The rise and fall of brands

For more than a decade, we have been researching what makes great brands through the lens of authenticity. Each time we compile Brand Alpha, surveying the public as to how they feel about the country’s best-known brands, the results are a little bit different and one of the most fascinating conversations we have is as to why. Why do some brands move to the top of the list and others slide dramatically downward?

The reasons are complex, but the data gives us a clear guide where to look. Take, for example, Tesla. In 2018, Tesla came out of nowhere to top the list.

In 2019, the brand has been dethroned as many Kiwis question its Value and Virtue, two of the factors we survey consumers about.

Another attribute that goes into Brand Alpha is Vitality. People remain convinced Tesla is an exciting brand with scores in this area high. The final attribute is Visibility and Tesla didn’t do too badly there either. Still, the news hasn’t always been great with the brand itself and Tesla founder Elon Musk attracting a fair share of negative press. There have been delivery issues with vehicles, share prices have taken a dive and there was that unfortunate situation with Musk and the Thai cave rescuers.

Closer to home, two local brands that are ‘taking a breather’ at the top of the list are Lewis Road Creamery and Whittaker’s. Last year, both performed strongly against the four brand attributes and while they remain powerful brands, there’s been some weakening in their Visibility and Vitality. A lack of presence in-market (potentially less newsworthy innovation) is a likely factor and in the case of Whittaker’s, a slip in Vitality could be related to the controversial gender reveal chocolate saga earlier this year.

There’s also been a softening for global digital brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Amazon. The data suggests they are normalising. They are still powerful mass brands, but not quite as top of mind or exciting as they were a year prior which is to be expected for brands that burst onto the scene and burn brightly from the get-go.

Of course, it’s not all bad news with some brands seeing a surge in their placement on the Brand Alpha list. Amongst a growing push to care for the environment, EcoStore has come of age this year. Theirs is a story of a brand with an enduring reputation for Vitality successfully broadening Visibility and mainstream relevance. Timing does hurt either.

Two big breakthrough brands of 2019 – Lime and IKEA – are trading on a classic ‘disrupter’ profile. Strong on perceived Value and Vitality; they’re seen to shake up conventional markets in a fresh and fun way. And this is before Ikea has even launched into the local market.

The good news continues for a number of resurgent homegrown brands including Air New Zealand, The All Blacks, TradeMe, Mitre10 and Kiwibank. These brands have all become a little more visible and more highly valued by consumers which just goes to show brands can have off years before bouncing back.

Finally Radio NZ National is perhaps the year’s most dramatic turnaround brand, with big advances in Visibility, Value and Virtue. In the past year, it has clearly done a great job of building its relevance with Kiwis both young and old.

For more information please contact steve@principalsbrand.co.nz for a run through of the results. 

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