While the top trusted brands in the United States were mainly household goods, Amazon.com claimed the top spot for the "most trusted and recognized" brand names. Millward Brown, one of the world’s leading research companies, released the study in BrandWeek yesterday. The household goods that dominated the top of the list were Downy, Huggies, Tide, and Tylenol, ranking from third to sixth.
FedEx occupied the no. 2 spot, and their main competitor, UPS, made it into the final spot, while surprisingly, Toyota was ranked at no. 7. However, Toyota's current brand woes weren't brought to light until January 2010. Other than Amazon, the only online brand to make the list was WebMD.
The report compiled information from 20,000 U.S. consumers in the fourth quarter of 2009, with the trust/recommendation scale taken from data complied by BrandZ, a global consumer brand study firm that has been ranking brand equity since 1998. According to Eileen Campbell, CEO of Millward Brown (owned by WPP), consumer-packaged goods require consumer trust to be successful, which is why they tend to dominate the list.
FedEx and Amazon ranked high due to the fact that they are known as reliable, a quality that instills trust among consumers. However, trust isn't the only factor that pushed these two brands to the top: Both have a consumer word-of-mouth component that enabled them a high ranking. This highlights the fact that recommendations from other consumers is vital to a brand's health.
Brands are living entities in consumer's minds, and the way they handle crises attributes positively to their "trust factor" among consumers. Tylenol ranks at no. 6 despite the fact that they have had their share of negative publicity and product recalls, including a 2009 recall of children's medicine.
The way in which a company handles a crisis reinforces positive consumer perception if the company is seen as being proactive, honest, and fair; these are the same qualities that we find as admirable among our fellow human beings.
Although this study is but one of many brand-equity measures published by industry-research companies, it's worthwhile to note that brand consistency -- from customer interaction to executive-level decision-making -- is the key to success.