Tim Youngman: Fairy, Cadbury, Google and Heinz all top the list of ‘happy’ brands

Heinz is on the happy brands list

Heinz is on the happy brands list - Credit: Jason Alden/newscast

I read a lot of marketing research and papers on brand and branding as part of my job which are often very dull.

However this week I read a recent survey from ad agency Isobel which ranked UK brands based on a number of “happy” criteria. That might seem the agency equivalent of one of those bizarre academic studies such as ‘Why does a cookie crumble?’ (that’s a real study by the academics at Loughborough Uni btw and it’s because humidity disrupts the biscuit’s internal forces which cause it to self destruct!). However the point is an interesting one, if a brand is perceived as being happy does that make you more likely to purchase or interact with it, and what makes a “happy” brand anyway?

The agency identified five core characteristics that identify a “happy” brand, those being playful, happy, trustworthy, generous and optimistic. They shortlisted 100 UK brands and then asked 1250 people to rank them against those criteria. The final list makes interesting reading. Top of the list was Cadbury followed by Andrex at number 2 and Google at number 3. The full top ten is packed with FMCG brands Fairy (4), Nivea (5), Youtube (6), amazon (7), Mars (8), Walkers (9) and Heinz (10).

It’s not that surprising that the three service brands in the top ten - Google, YouTube and Amazon - are all digital and entertainment based. The rest fulfil the rules of brand that it should facilitate short term gratification and long term identify, you buy them because you are consciously or unconsciously choosing them over another similar offering because you identify with that brand and what it says about you and your views of the world.

What these brands have in common is a consistency of approach and messaging and a human tone of voice in that messaging. Most of the brands in the top ten have a clear brand promise that they deliver to consumers and stick to. What this survey also highlights is that emotional attributes are as important to consumers as rational reasons to buy as consumers are human after all, a fact that businesses often forget.


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Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant

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