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Superbrand heroes and villains!

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Life’s more than just a popularity contest, right? I mean, we were done with all that kind of nonsense when we graduated from the playground. Weren’t we? It seems not. The biggest businesses in the UK have been vying to be top dog in the eyes of the British public – and the results are impressive.

Yes, we’re already at that time of year for The Centre for Brand Analysis’ (TCBA) report on consumer and business superbrands. First up, let’s get one thing straight – this is one list companies can’t buy their way onto (hello Product of the Year people). Companies are ranked by a council made up of senior industry figures and also by a panel of 2,500 Brits courtesy of Lightspeed GMI.Each brand is judged in three areas – quality of products and services, reliability (are they trustworthy and consistent?) and distinction, as in is it different enough from its rivals.

So who are this year’s heroes and villains?

For the third year running, our superhero superbrand is…British Airways. Not bad going from a list that includes 1,600 brands – and especially when that list includes Google, Coca-Cola and Apple.

It’s not been a bad year for British Airways all round. Benefitting from the economic growth we were all supposed to enjoy last year (did I miss that memo?), the airline posted bumper profits for the third quarter of 2015 and branched out into new routes – including one from Heathrow that will propel you straight into the heart of Silicon Valley.

And while we’re thinking about tech, how did the big guns in this industry fare in this year’s superbrands survey? Well Apple made it to seventh place, while Google and Microsoft languished at a relatively lowly 16th and 20th respectively. Not bad, but well off their historic best. Apparently we’re all into heritage brands now, rather than cutting edge tech. Well LEGO did come second, although I’m unsure about Andrex in tenth place.

So did The Brits do good?

Well I don’t know about the awards – too busy with this consumer research thing to keep on top of the latest music charts – but sadly only five of the top twenty brands in the TCBA survey were British. Dyson had its best result ever and clinched the number four spot, whilst M&S, those consumer savvy bods at John Lewis and Sir Branson’s Virgin Atlantic made it to the bottom half of the chart.

And one very British brand that had a disastrous year – even worse than the sound tech working at last week’s Grammys – is the BBC. Yep, apparently we just don’t see then as reliable as we used to. And as for the quality of their product…well, just tune into BBC1 on a Saturday night and see for yourself. All this meant that the Beeb – after making the top 5 for eight of the past nine years, fell out of the superbrand top 20 altogether. Ouch!

So what can we learn from them?

We might never get to rub shoulders with the big guys in the superbrands survey but there’s always a trick or two we can learn from them. Let’s just take a look at the blurb voters were asked to consider –

‘A Superbrand has established the finest reputation in its field. It offers customers significant emotional and/or tangible advantages over its competitors, which customers want and recognise.’

Get your chops around that!

Once you’ve digested the somewhat flowery language, it’s really saying what we all aspire to – a great reputation, and emotional connection with customers and giving those customers exactly what it is that they want. I think Mr Superbrand has been reading my blog…

Obviously, as CEO of an emotive user research consultancy, you know which bit I’m going to hone in on – “significant emotional advantages”. See, I’ve been right all along – you need to know what your consumers’ emotional experience is of using your business – and make sure that it’s what they’re looking for.

In today’s multi-channel world, that can be harder than it looks – which is why The Monachie Project exists. Get the experts to do your leg work so you can get on with whatever your specialism is. Simple. My team of consumer research consultants are poised to find out how your customers see your brand – and that means you’ll be able to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

Get in touch and maybe being a superbrand won’t be pie in the sky for you much longer. Reach for the stars and you’ll even over-take British Airways flying at altitude, and with the way things are going you’ll get there before Virgin Galactic’s spaceline.

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