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America's Favorite Brands

America's Favorite Brands

You probably have a favorite brand. It’s probably different from your friend’s favorite, your parents’ favorite. But the reasons why it’s your favorite brand may be similar to other peoples’ reasons for their favorite brands.

Love brands, or lovemarks is the idea that some brands extend their existence beyond supermarket shelves or ads on TV, and generate real, actual love from their fans. First coined by Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2004, the concept of a love brand is one that ignites a consumer’s passions. These fans are also their customers, but firstly they are the brands’ ambassadors, cheerleaders, and megaphones helping to spread genuine and authentic love for the brand.

Get the report: The world's favorite brands

Talkwalker has compiled this report, broken into a Global Top 50 of the Most Loved Brands, as well as further insights on what America’s favorite brands are. We have also identified the 11 traits that brands can use to connect with their fans.

How can you measure love?

That’s impossible! You cannot measure love, and this report doesn’t try to. Instead, we can measure social media mentions that are specific symptoms of a brand that generates actual love from its social media fans.

We began by cultivating a list of 781 well known brands across 28 industries from around the globe, based on industry listings and regional marketing expertise. Those lists included:

  • S&P, NASDAQ, DOW

  • FTSE-100

  • Forbes’ Most Valuable Brands

  • Fortune 500 Best Companies

From 07/01/19 to 12/31/19 we gathered data on these brands, specifically looking for mentions, engagement, positive sentiment and love-focused emotive keywords. We also specifically built our queries to search for conversations about the brands, not conversations with the brands. The brand’s own content and replies are not taken into consideration for this report. Each brand was ranked on engagement and net sentiment using the Talkwalker Quick Search tool. This left us with a shortlist of 141 brands.

We then used Talkwalker Analytics to measure the instances of the following criteria which form the final score:

  • Consumer engagement rate on social media.

  • Consumer sentiment on social media.

  • Consumer engagement rate in the news.

  • Consumer sentiment in the news.

  • Percentage of mentions that were categorized as related to ‘joy’

  • Percentage of mentions that contain love-related keywords

This left us with a more dynamic and nuanced final list than one that simply scored the brands based on their total number of mentions, or a simple ranking by sentiment.

The 11 Love Brand Traits

The methods the world’s favorite brands use to build love:

  • CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility

Support the same issues that matter to their consumers.

  • Sponsorship

Build strong emotional bonds with consumers’ favorite sport teams, bands, & events.

  • Nostalgia

Connect with customers’ past loves, to embrace that love for their brand.

  • Employee advocacy

Create a brand that employees love to work for, which radiates out.

  • Customer experience

Offer exceptional customer service to keep customers coming back.

  • Influencer marketing

Unite with influencers with strong community relationships and shared passions.

  • Trend engagement

Engage with current topics, to build relevance with their consumers.

  • Engaging social media strategy

Cultivate brand friendship, to create a community, not a client base.

  • Positive PR

Improve consumer awareness and engagement, by sharing positive stories.

  • Engaging fandoms

Tap into relevant fandoms, for a loyal following of content aggregators and advocates.

  • Aspirational

Nurture an aspirational feeling towards their brand, selling a lifestyle and a product.

The 50 most loved brands in the world, here

The List: America's Favorite Brands

Four Seasons

This prestigious hospitality group checks off several categories on our list, but excels at driving brand love through positive PR. Four Seasons’ online sentiment is overwhelmingly good, with only 3% of mentions around the brand registering as negative within the last year. This is in large part due to news coverage that properties and programs have received.

Conversations online around Four Seasons are driven by press coverage that typically puts the brand in a good light.

From making fine dining news to announcing unique on-site experiences, Four Seasons uses press hits to highlight innovative amenities that follow consumer trends. With regular appearances on “top” lists for foodies and globetrotters, the brand established a strong foothold in industry coverage.

This strategic newsjacking helped Four Seasons to pivot quickly this year and reframe both PR efforts and business offerings around current events. The brand created new initiatives that continued to earn good mentions during the pandemic and beyond, such as giving free stays to essential workers and partnering with Johns Hopkins Medicine International for a new global health and safety program.

Timely-launched internal initiatives that help employees who have been impacted by COVID-19 closures are generating even more positive PR for the brand.

Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG)

Loyalty programs are big business drivers for the hospitality industry. Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) uses the Rewards Club to foster lasting relationships with its guests - the program puts customer experience at the heart of IHG’s marketing strategy, and sentiment analysis shows a correlation between the Rewards Club and positive mentions in online conversations about the hospitality group:

the key sentiments that drive loyalty to the IHG brand

Keywords like “offers” and “club” are driving positive mentions for IHG in online chatter, alongside terms like “great” and “experience”.

Members of IHG’s Rewards Club are given lots of easy ways to earn “points” through hotel stays, credit card purchases, partnership programs, and more. They can use the credits to upgrade or get free rooms (“Reward Nights”) at IHG resorts, donate money to charity, or even swap them for miles with partner airlines. The benefits keep paying off, as earning more points gets members to the Elite level of the program and lets them unlock new rewards.

Even further, the brand gives back to its members for keeping points within the IHG family - Rewards Nights that are purchased with Club points count towards qualification for Elite status, so customer loyalty is strongly encouraged. This further drives consumer engagement with IHG and helps the brand establish a position as an experiential force in people’s lives.

Hyatt Hotels

With resorts around the world, Hyatt Hotels have properties in some of the most breathtaking locations. The brand excels at highlighting this on social platforms, giving Hyatt an aspirational aesthetic that makes audience members want to become guests.

Each Hyatt collection has its own social media presence, which allows the brand to create several unique voices that speak to specific audiences and potential customers. Followers of Hyatt’s Alila Hotels can get a peek at boutique properties with modern designs, while more adventurous guests may be fans of the Unbound Collection’s obscure destinations and travel experiences.

Hyatt Hotels invites customers into the story by incorporating user-generated content with brand posts:

This encourages online engagement with Hyatt and makes guests feel like they get to be part of its aspirational narrative. Even now, when many Hyatt Hotels properties have been closed due to COVID-19, the brand is staying relevant with consumers through digital engagement:

Park Hyatt tweeted backgrounds for followers to use during video chats that featured stunning views from their properties to get them excited about future travel.

Huda Beauty

Huda Beauty is a blog-to-beauty brand success story that leverages influencer marketing and positive PR to build brand love. Founded by Huda Kattan, an Iraqi-American businesswoman and makeup artist, Huda Beauty started as a blog and YouTube channel that developed a devoted following. Today, the million-dollar brand boasts one of the top accounts on Instagram’s Beauty section and 4 million subscribers on YouTube.

huda virality map

Talkwalker's virality map shows how a post on Huda Beauty's Facebook page is shared across the platform.

Huda Beauty is praised by beauty bloggers worldwide for its luscious lashes, lipsticks, and high pigment pallets. An enthusiastic fanbase on social media eagerly shares tutorials, product reviews and news about the latest releases and promotions.

The brand continues to earn love and publicity around National Lipstick Day (July 29), which Kattan created in 2016 and has become an industry-wide event. The day encourages people to make a statement and empower themselves through their makeup.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television, comics, video games and more. With franchises like Friends and Marvel Comics, what’s not to love. However, the brand doesn’t rest on its laurels and let the powerful fandoms behind its properties do all the work. Warner Bros. constantly innovates to create memorable customer experiences and generate positive press coverage. In celebration of Friends 25th anniversary, Warner Bros. created pop-up experiences in major US cities, which recreated the apartment of the iconic sitcom for fans.

Additional headlines resulted from recent news of the company’s first female CEO and a collaboration with Microsoft, which used the original 1978 Superman movie to test the storage of data on glass. Their winning formula is one of customer experience, nostalgia, engaging fandoms, and more.

positive tweets that mention warner bros. use these emojis

These are the most used emojis (all positive) in social media conversations about Warner Bros.

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market has rabid fans across the country. It can be found in tony suburbs and urban hubs, with shoppers attracted to it’s easy to navigate stores that have a “see and be seen” vibe. Since integrating with Amazon, online shopping, delivery, and sourcing obscure products has become easier. The foods on display and on sale help would-be chefs aspire to farm-fresh all-organic feasts for the whole family. If shoppers don’t have time, Whole Foods offers a range of quick serve foods that recreate that feeling in a microwave.

It’s no wonder their efficiency, customer experience, and cultural cache all combine into an aspirational experience that leaves customers ready to embrace the Whole Foods lifestyle.

General Mills

The cereal and food producer behind such loved brands as Cheerios, Reeses Puffs, and Trix deals in nostalgia to recreate fond memories of a bowl of cereal during Saturday morning cartoons.

Nostalgia is a powerful brand trait that can trigger strong emotional memories in the right audience. It’s one of the traits measured in our Brand Love Report.

Founded in 1928 General Mills has longtime experience and a wide variety of products in the history books and on the shelves now. The brand can use social media as a testing ground and a gauge for when to bring back fan favorites, or just to put childhood memories top of mind for parents as they browse the cereal aisle.

Billabong

The surfing apparel company from Down Under is just as loved on American shores, appealing to surfers and more casual beach-goers everywhere. Besides a love of good vibes, and hot summers Billabong involves its community in efforts around the globe to help protect people and the places (surf spots especially) that they love.

Urban Decay

Urban Decay made a splash in the beauty scene when it launched in the late 1990s. The brand became wildly popular for its alternative hues with names like Asphyxia and Smog, which offered relief from the many shades of pink that dominated makeup counters at the time. Urban Decay’s fanbase and popularity become even bigger with the rise of social media. The brand currently has 11 million followers on Instagram and is known for content that challenges traditional standards of beauty.

Their campaigns and docuseries such as My Naked Truth and Pretty Different feature stars like Lizzo and Ezra Klein promoting messages of self-love. Urban Decay also earns brand love for corporate social responsibility - it has a strong stance against animal testing. PETA and the Leaping Bunny Program certify the products cruelty-free. Throw in a loyalty program that gives fans free makeup on their birthday and it’s easy to understand why it’s one of America’s favorite brands.

Instagram

Instagram is the only social media platform to make our Love Brands Global Report. It’s the preferred social network for influencers, advertisers, fans, memes, and crucially - trend engagement. Events, things like Twitter Moments or TikTok challenges, and trends are all born elsewhere. But Instagram is where they reach the masses. If a piece of content successfully makes the jump to Instagram, where beautiful visuals populate the feed and less polished content is only visible for 24 hours on Stories, then it has truly become a trend, a noteworthy moment that will be picked up on by advertisers and the media.

In short, Instagram has become the proving ground for pop culture, something that makes it immensely appealing to fans and advertisers alike.

Traits to emulate - how can you build your own love brand?

Now that you’ve seen how the most loved brands in North America reach and engage with their fans, it’s time to consider this challenge for yourself. How can you emulate some of these traits?

Some of these may clearly not be a fit for your brand, that’s fine! But some of them surely are. And it’s up to you to make that connection clear to your audience, to ignite their passions. What ways are you cultivating fans now? After reading this list and seeing how some of the best do it, does that change your approach? Is there more you need to be doing, or should be scaling back to focus on one key area?

There’s no single right way to go about this, it’s a matter of testing and learning.

Being authentically passionate about something as a brand will inspire that same passion in your fans.

love brands report