Apple and Cadbury retain position as the UK’s top two storytelling brands, AESOP reveals

Apple and Cadbury retain their position as the UK’s top two storytelling brands, according to new research revealed today from brand storytelling agency AESOP in association with One Poll.

The 2014 Brand Storytelling Report, now in its second year, identifies the UK’s top storytelling brands and has seen a shift in fortunes for many of the UK’s leading brands. The survey, that polled over 2000 UK consumers in May, has seen M&S, Kellogg’s, Heinz and Fairy drop out of the top ten to be replaced by McDonald’s (4th), Virgin Media (7th), YouTube (8th) and Macmillan (9th).

M&S, which drops twelve places from 6th to 18th, is indicative of a drop in rankings for the UK’s top supermarket brands. Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain has dropped 14 places from 13th to 27th with Asda falling 10 places to 37th and Sainsbury’s a drop of 17 places to 45th. Only the award-winning Aldi (Which? Supermarket of the Year) has risen up the rankings – moving up an impressive 17 places and entering the top 20 (20th) – two places behind M&S and one above Kellogg’s.

IKEA (4th), Walkers (5th), Coca Cola (6th) and the British Red Cross (10th) complete the top 10.

Ed Woodcock, director of Narrative, Aesop Agency, said: “This last year seems to be the year that brand storytelling joined the mainstream. With significant attention paid to it at Cannes this year, marketers are waking up to storytelling’s unique ability to engage and make an emotional connection with audiences in an age when they are fully in control. It’s given us all the more reason to commission this year’s research, allowing us to keep track of which brands score well against storytelling criteria. There are some surprising stories to be told…”

Apple retains poll position

For the second year running, Apple has been revealed as the UK’s top storytelling brand.

The Brand Storytelling study asked consumers to identify brands against nine key storytelling elements and Apple ranked an impressive 1st amongst five of the categories.

With Apple set to enter the world of wearable tech with production of its iWatch rumoured to start next month – interest in Apple’s innovation and ongoing story remains high. Not surprisingly Apple polled the most votes against the ‘brands you’re intrigued to know what they’ll do next’ category and were cited as the UK’s top brand considered to have a ‘unique personality/character’ and were identified as a brand that ‘creates their own world’.

Apple’s poorest showing was against the ‘memorable’ category – polling only 18% of the votes and achieving a ranking of 18th – one place above Aldi and one below IKEA. Price comparison site, which continues to enjoy success with the Meerkat campaign, was voted the UK’s most memorable brand polling 32% of the votes.

The votes are in – UKIP revealed as a top storytelling brand and the Lib Dems are forgettable…

UKIP is the only UK political party to make it into the top 20 (11th overall) – with just under 1/5th of the population identifying the controversial party as a storytelling brand. None of the other leading parties make it into the top 50 – with the Green party UKIP’s nearest rival at 64th. The Lib Dems pick up the political wooden spoon ranking 93rd with the Conservatives achieving a ranking of 89th – one place behind Bulmers and one above the Halifax.

The three big parties all struggled against the ‘credible’ category with the Lib Dems and the Tories polling only 4% and 5% of the votes respectively and it would seem that Nick Clegg’s gang are a hard act to remember – polling only 0.5% of the votes in the ‘memorable’ category.

UKIP on the other hand achieved three top 10 rankings and are perceived to be a brand with a clear opinion (2nd), a brand with vision/purpose (7th) and a brand rich with intrigue (2nd).

A tale of two halves for social media brands…

The top five social media brands are a new addition to this years study and were anticipated to dominate the upper rankings. However, whilst YouTube has been revealed as a top ten storytelling brand (8th) with Facebook in 13th, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin have largely failed to make an impact.

Woodcock said: “What’s different about social media brands is that they’re platforms for other people’s stories. So whilst their own story can often be lost in the chatter, a number of the social media brands are still regarded as ‘storytellers’ because of the volume of content that gets channelled through them.”

Charities – top performing brand category

It was felt, following the publication of last years study, that charities were a category that would be interesting to assess from a storytelling perspective and so, alongside social media brands, they are a new addition to this years study.

With an average category ranking of 16th, Charities are the top performing brand category with Oxfam the lowest ranked in 28th with Macmillan making the top ten in 9th.

Not surprisingly, the organisations demonstrated a strong showing in both the ‘vision and purpose’ and ‘credible’ categories with almost half of the UK population (43%) identifying the British Red Cross as a brand with vision and purpose.

Do brands have a clear opinion?

Whilst some brands – the charities, Apple, McDonald’s and UKIP – are perceived to have an opinion, a number of brands performed poorly in this category with 32 brands polling only 10% or less of the votes.

Woodcock said: “Brands on the whole are often scared of setting an agenda. That doesn’t necessarily mean having a campaigning attitude or a strident tone of voice, but rather being courageously clear about what you stand for. For an opinion to have an edge, brands need to take a real stand – take a stand against something (even if by implication) as well as stand for something. The truth is narratives need baddies as well as goodies. And it’s this contrast that brands often fail to spell out.”

Key findings:

  • EE – the years biggest riser climbing 36 places to 48th
  • Visa – the years biggest faller dropping 49 places to 79th
  • Utilities the poorest performing category for the second year running
  • London bucks the trend and votes Twitter into their top ten (9th)
  • Wales and Ireland the only regions not to place Apple 1st favouring IKEA and

    Coca Cola

  • Gender divide – top ten differences with men favouring UKIP and Guinness and

    women Dove and Facebook

  • Innocent drop down the rankings
  • Only 0.3% of the population believe the Tories to be ‘memorable’.
  • Only 2% of consumers believe that RBS tell a credible story
  • Easyjet moves ahead of BA in the battle of the airlines
  • Guinness the top performing drinks brand
  • Heineken the poorest drinks storyteller at 91st

TOP 10

7 E.ON