Forrester’s Brand Energy Leaders

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Companies grow and create value when they energize customer relationships and create passionate advocates, and apparently this is something that financial services companies have done well, according to Forrester Research.

Though generally considered a bland industry, financial services companies had better brand energy than many brands with much more buzz, like Apple and Netflix, according to the research firm.

The firm singles out USAA, online bank Chime, Bank of America, Lemonade Insurance, and Chase as leaders in the category when it comes to brand energy.

That energy, though, is felt only by current customers, not by prospects, Forrester points out, noting that when both customers and prospects are considered, financial services is the third-leading industry, behind consumer electronics and retail.

In a surprising turn of events, the consumer electronics, retail, and financial industries this year far outpaced social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in terms of brand energy, according to Forrester.

“We may not be able to untether from our smartphones, but all of that attention doesn’t amount to much when consumers rate their social media brands,” Forrester says. “The tsunami of problems that have drowned these brands, from questionable decisions that advance profit over mental health to sheltering a sea of disinformation and hate, has taken a toll on this category.”

Facebook scored poorly, while Twitter and Instagram did a little better. WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook parent company Meta, scored significantly better.

In consumer electronics, Bose, Apple, and Sony were among the leaders. Of those, Bose scored consistently across all age groups, the only company to do so, while Sony did well among older consumers and dropped off with younger consumers.

Though companies in the grocery category are considered to have little differentiation, there are contrasts when it comes to brand energy, according to Forrester. Big-box grocer Costco performed significantly better than its competitors. Trader Joe’s, meanwhile, scored particularly well among non-customers.

The goal of brand energy is to earn brand devotion, Forrester explains. And for companies to understand the qualities that result in brand value, they need to define what they are trying to achieve. Devotion, a testament to brand energy, can be measured by the propensity of customers to deepen their involvement with the brand, according to Forrester. “To successfully earn this devotion, brands must build an energy core based on extensive statistical analysis.”

Forrester also notes that brand energy is driven by salience, fit, and affinity.

Whether a company is the right fit for a customer depends on how well its products, services and functionality meet customer needs, according to Forrester, which found that if customers feel the company is a fit, they are more likely to look for a deeper relationship with it.

Just as “feel” is important for the customer’s brand energy, so is emotional-driven branding, according to Forrester. “Emotion isn’t an island. It influences both salience and fit. We view emotion as foundational to all three brand energy dimensions and the underpinning of a brand’s ability to drive customer choice.” 

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