Who are Australia’s most authentic brand leaders?

Brand Alpha™ is Principals’ way of measuring the authentic leadership qualities of brands.

Developed through qualitative and quantitative studies, we have identified an underlying mental model that people use to judge a brand’s authentic character. The model has four inter-related constructs or V-factors.  The more obvious drivers of brand leadership, Visibility and Value, are weighed up in parallel to the softer, yet increasingly critical factors of Vitality and Virtue. Since 2006, we’ve measured over 160 brands in a dozen sectors across 7 countries.

Here are the highest performing brands:

IKEA’s #1 reputation is driven by its all-round authenticity. With outstanding performance on 3 of the 4 brand authenticity drivers; Vitality, Value & Visibility. It’s a high profile brand, famous for everyday value that delivers a high energy and hard-to-compare customer experience.

Apple is Australia’s highest Vitality brand. It’s the technology company that most excites Australians and conveys the clearest sense of human purpose, reflected in a very strong Virtue score.

Bunnings is the strongest homegrown brand as well as this year’s highest Virtue brand. It combines an unshakeable price leadership position with a sincere look-you-in-the-eye service quality that Australians have grown to love.

Aldi has swiftly emerged as a defining supermarket brand through aggressive Value delivery combined with IKEA-like distinctiveness in its merchandise and customer experience. It’s redefining Value and Vitality in the sector by striking out on its own confident path.

Amazon rounds out the top 5 [all talented retailers, building their brands through distinctive customer experience delivery]. As a brand with major growth ambitions, expect Amazon to further advance its already serious local reputation for Value and Vitality in the year ahead.

The Qantas reputation has rebounded in 2017. The flying kangaroo reclaims its position as Australia’s highest Visibility brand, with solid improvements in its Virtue performance too. It’s a brand that’s back on song in capturing the Spirit of Australia.

While the Visibility of the Google brand has slipped back in recent years, its reputation for Vitality remains strong. Australians clearly expect new and exciting things to emerge from the Googleplex soon.

Australians continue to view the ABC as a brand that’s in tune with the mood of the nation, scoring strongest on the Virtue factor. The brand’s Visibility and Vitality are also again on the rise. In a turbulent digital age, Auntie is faring well.

Mazda, the ZoomZoom brand continues to lead the volume car sector on Vitality. But it’s also overtaken Toyota on the Value and overall Brand Alpha measures this year, suggesting further market share growth to come.

Toyota continues to enjoy the greatest Visibility in its sector and an enduring reputation for Value. But the Vitality and Virtue scores of the brand are sliding. With heightened competition from Mazda and Hyundai, dependability and value alone are no longer enough.

Coca-Cola retains its iconic status as the highest Visibility product brand in this year’s study. The brand’s reputation for Value and Vitality remain solid, yet Coke is seriously challenged on the Virtue factor today.

Netflix debuts in our 2017 study with an impressive top 20 performance. It brings deeply challenging competition to Foxtel given its superior delivery on the Visibility, Value and Vitality factors.

Hyundai continues to rise in the rankings due to sustained high performance on the Value factor combined with steady improvements in the brand’s Vitality. It is now seriously challenging Mazda on brand energy and excitement.

Australia Post returns to the top 20 this year given sustained high performance on Virtue combined with improvements in brand Visibility. Growing awareness of new digital and after-hours services are re-proving the relevance of this centuries old brand.

Foxtel holds onto a top 20 place given recent improvements in Value delivery. Though over-the-top digital disrupters will continue to challenge Foxtel’s aggregated content model and intensify the battle for Vitality leadership.

CommBank sustains its long-standing position as Australia’s highest Visibility bank. The brand that more than any other still typifies its sector.

NAB out-punches larger rivals to achieve a place in the top 20. By driving a stronger focus on its beliefs and values that give it category cut-through on the Virtue factor. A brand that seeks to care about more than just money.

Telstra, like Commonwealth Bank, sustains leadership of its category through superior Visibility. It’s the brand’s Value and Vitality that are under serious challenge.

Optus beats Telstra decisively on Value, meets it on Vitality but currently falls short in terms of Virtue; Telstra retains a stronger emotional connection with the values and priorities of most Australians.

Woolworths rounds out the top 20 driven by a solid performance on Visibility and Virtue; it endures as a familiar and warm-hearted brand.