Who Are the Year’s Best-Loved Brands? Hint: Half Are Probably Younger Than You

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Conventional wisdom holds that it takes decades of hard work for a company to become the most respected in its field. Maybe that’s still true, but consider this: half of the most respected brands in existence have been around fewer than 20 years.

That’s just one of the findings of the YouGov BrandIndex’s best-perceived brands of the year, released today. (You can find profiles of the Top 10 brands and charts of their brand growth in recent years below.)

Not only are the top placers surprisingly youthful companies, but they are—not coincidentally—also media and technology heavies. “New media and technology are dominating the list,” said BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli. “Seven out of 10 of these brands are these new media brands and many of them didn’t exist 10 years ago.”

YouGov polls consumers each year about 1,400 brands, asking respondents to score them based on what they’ve heard about them (good or bad) in the preceding two weeks. That makes the survey a pretty good measure of advertising efficacy and media reach, which probably explains why Amazon, Netflix and YouTube—all of them companies involved in disseminating content as well as creating their own—reign at the top of the list.

But by ranking brands on customers’ perceptions, the survey is also a gauge of how much damage a bad incident can do to a brand. Case in point: Subway, last year's No. 4 brand, got knocked clean out of the Top 10 list—most likely in the wake of the disaster that spokesperson Jared Fogle became.

In fact, as the charts below illustrate, YouGov's data highlights how fast-changing American perceptions of brands can be.

Brands like the iPhone have passed in and out of favor, for example, while Amazon has consistently held the high ground. As Marzilli points out, it's not always easy to pin down exactly why consumers hold a brand in high esteem in the first place, then turn their backs on it.

But one thing is certain: Being digitally savvy and socially sharable goes a long way to keeping a brand in high regard. And in that respect, even an older brand can still share the limelight with the youngsters. Consider Samsung, founded in 1938, but now the leading maker of smart phones on planet earth—and the No. 7 best perceived brand, too.

Here's a look at America's 10 best-perceived brands going into 2016, and how their popularity has varied over the years:

@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.