What Does It Take to Be a Meaningful Brand in 2019?

Havas study shares tips and the top 10 globally

Havas Media's survey found people wouldn't care if 77% of brands just disappeared.
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Havas has some bad news for brands: Its annual study revealed that people wouldn’t mind if 77 percent of the world’s brands ceased to exist. That’s up 3 precent from 2017.

The global study, now in its tenth year, was a survey of over 350,000 people and more than 1,800 brands in 22 categories aimed at determining what makes a meaningful brand today. For Maria Garrido, chief insights and analytics for Havas Group, the staggering 77 percent figure signifies that “brands weren’t listening a year and a half ago or maybe we didn’t scream loud enough.” You can access the full study here.

So what does it take to be a meaningful brand in 2019? The study suggests brands need to accomplish three things: delivering the products and services they say they’re going to deliver, improving people’s lives and playing a role in society.

“The real gap is in the personal benefits problem,” Garrido said. “That’s where I think brands aren’t doing a good enough job to dig in to understand how they can contribute to the quality of people’s lives.” While 63 percent of baby boomers said they expect more than just a product from a brand, that percentage increases with younger generations. Seventy-six percent of Gen Xers, 84 percent of millennials and 87 percent of Gen Zers believe brands need to do more.

In fact, 55 percent of those surveyed believe companies have a greater responsibility than the government does to create a better future for people. Seventy-seven percent said they buy from companies with which they share values, while 84 percent argue brands should be transparent with consumers about their commitments and promises. Meanwhile, only 38 percent believe brands currently communicate honestly about their commitments.

Brands that have been able to prove they are meaningful generate greater financial value, according to Havas, with the study estimating that meaningful brands outperform the stock market by 134 percent.

The survey includes a list of the top 30 meaningful brands globally. The top 10 are Danone, Microsoft, BMW, Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, YouTube, WhatsApp, Google, PayPal and Mercedes-Benz.

Garrido said one thing all these brands have in common is their focus on great content, including experiences, events, stories and entertainment.

Fifty-eight percent of the content brands put out into the world is not meaningful to consumers, according to Havas, and different industries need to think about their content strategies differently.

“It’s not about slapping in celebrities or going into a new form of content and hoping that is going to connect meaningfully with your customers,” Garrido said. “The first thing brands have to understand is what is the role content is supposed to play? Once you understand the role content is supposed to play, then you will know which kinds of content better service that role.”

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