When I tweeted about my post on the Meaningful Brands Index results, my friend James Wooten was skeptical and thus ensued the following exchange:





I decided to go to the source and reached out the Havas team who got back to me with kind, in-depth responses to the questions that came out of my exchange with James. First, sincere thanks to Tara Vetro, Director of Corporate Communications; Sara de Dios Lopez, Global Director of Meaningful Brands; and Amy du Pon, Global Head of Data Insights, for framing the results further.

On Apple, Sara shared the following:

For most people worldwide, Apple is an aspirational brand rather than a meaningful brand for the majority

MB results show that :

a) Apple is often very meaningful for its clients & fans but not necessarily to the rest of people & society;

Brand’s familiarity, market share & use frequency do influence; but it happens to all brands across all categories and the fact is that other “smaller” brands do better with “non clients” & society at large than Apple

b) Apple is strong on emotional/aspirational aspects but often raises strong expectations that not everybody experience.

The fact that there are other nice + more open + more affordable alternatives (as Samsung’s) may contribute, especially considering today’s difficult economic context.

Its approach is quite close[d] and mostly restricted to the “apple universe” in a world that is becoming increasingly open sourced and interconnected (for example, see The Athena Doctrine). This, together with its aspirational premium positioning, might contribute to generate a cool but often more distant and colder/elitist image. Besides, it is not perceived strong/taking a lead on on sustainability issues.

Amy offered this perspective:

Apple is an interesting one. Considering all adults and the range of emerging and developed markets, we see other tech brands being more accessible (ie. financially), more prevalent (ie. # of stores) and doing more to visibly improve well-being, both at a community and an individual level. We also have seen this year shifts most likely due to the rise of the Samsung galaxy and also the passing of Steve Jobs.

Naturally if we look at loyal users we see relatively better performance.

And yes Microsoft has a higher user base for whom they are notably making a difference on a daily basis.

As to the higher rankings of Nestle, Activia and H&M, she noted the following:

What we see today is that the top performing meaningful brands are perceived to bring value across a rang of personal and collective well-being aspects, in addition to having a strong product/service.

Globally brands such as Nestle [and] Danone/ Activia are leveraging their natural category space to provide tangible daily benefits. Stemming from the core product, from packaging and the product size eg. family friendly, to nutrition and health, to supporting local communities eg. empowering women, and protecting the environment eg. recycling initiatives and standards. Also particularly in emerging markets where they are visibly helping to enhance living standards and life satisfaction.

H&M, as you say, are about affordable clothing + they inspire creativity through the a wide range and by bringing high-end designers to the high-street, re-setting practices and more.

As to James’s question about methodology, I’ll cover that in a separate post.

Posted by Rob Fields