Brand intimacy has been a defining factor for success during COVID—who’s doing it right?

by | Oct 14, 2020 | Public Relations

For many brands, the COVID crisis has seen the rubber meet the road when it comes to brand allegiance. It’s never been more important than now to forge that elusive emotional connection with consumers, and quite a few brands have stumbled, or dropped the ball entirely. But a handful have more than risen to the challenge, which is indicative of the success they’ve had in 2020 and over the years. The newly released Brand Intimacy COVID Study from marketing intimacy agency MBLM shows us who they are, and what they’re doing right.

Apple ranks as the #1 most intimate brand during COVID, according to the new report, a study of brands based on emotional connections during the pandemic. MBLM (pronounced Emblem) uses emotional science to build and manage more intimate brands. Amazon and Google are second and third in the study overall, respectively.

The study, now in its 10th year, reveals that the remaining brands in the top 10 are Walmart, YouTube, Toyota, Disney, Netflix, Chevrolet and PlayStation. The COVID rankings show many of the top Brand Intimacy performers continuing to lead. However, there were three new top 10 entrants, Google, YouTube and Toyota. There has also been a shift in focus with more media & entertainment brands in the top 10 and fewer automotive brands, suggesting consumers turned to the enjoyment provided by media & entertainment brands, and became less reliant on their cars.

Brand intimacy has been a defining factor for success during COVID—who’s doing it right?

Brand Intimacy is the emotional science behind the bonds we form with the brands we use and love. Top intimate brands have also continued to significantly outperform the leading brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 indices across revenue growth, profit growth and stock price during the first quarter of 2020, compared to the first quarter of 2019. The percentage differences are significant and indicate the degree to which intimate brands generate millions more dollars in revenue.

“We are facing a once-in-a-generation disruption to every facet of our lives. Our COVID study reveals the impact on the world’s leading brands,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, in a news release. “We have uncovered that consumers have increased the number of brands they are bonding with. As we all look towards recovery, this comprehensive data can help businesses and their brands navigate what’s next.”

Additional findings from the report:

  • During the pandemic, consumers have shown a 23 percent increase in the number of brands they are connecting with emotionally
  • Media & entertainment, automotive and retail are the top 3 industries
  • Apple is the top brand for women and millennials, while men rank Amazon as their #1 brand
  • During the pandemic, men are forming deeper attachments to brands compared to women
  • Zoom is the top brand that people were using more during the pandemic, followed by Purell and Netflix
  • Purell is the #1 brand for consumers willing to pay 20 percent more for its services or products. Last year, the top ranked brand for this measure was Rolex
  • Brands that are part of the smartphone ecosystem increased in strength during COVID, particularly access brands like Verizon and AT&T
  • New entrant Tesla ranks #1 in the automotive industry for having the largest percent of customers willing to pay 20 percent or for more the brand’s products

Download the complete report here.

During late summer 2020, MBLM conducted a quantitative survey of 3,000 consumers in the U.S. to detail their experiences across 10 industries and 100 brands. The Brand Intimacy COVID Studyfocuses on highlights, insights and rankings from this survey. To see the study’s detailed methodology, click here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter