The secret to Apple's brand success largely revolves around "apostles," who influence consumption via word-of-mouth and advocacy. The challenge for brands is walking the line between evangelism and backlash.
That's the takeaway from a survey of 12,000 U.S. consumers and 3,000 Europeans by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
What the BCG survey finds is that the best liked brands can also be the least liked. The key is apostles. BCG research finds that one ultra-loyal customer--an apostle--can generate eight times his consumption based on recommending a brand to others.
Win the apostle game and a brand can surge. Apple was the No. 1 brand, according to BCG. The research was highlighted in a book, Rocket: Eight Lessons to Secure Infinite Growth.
The BCG book attempts to boil branding down to a series of key rules. Here's a look at them:
In the brand rankings, Apple ranked No. 1, followed by Amazon, Walmart, Netflix, Costco, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Target, Jet Blue and Chik-Fil-A.
However, Apple was rated No. 3 among the least favorite brands as respondents called the company elitist and arrogant. Walmart was the No. 3 most favorite brand yet No. 1 least favorite one.
When consumers rated brands, emotional factors carried the day. People who advocated for a brand said it made them feel smart and that they made a good decision. Quality and convenience also mattered. Amazon, Apple and Walmart all made people feel like they were making good decisions.
Also worth noting are the emerging strong brands in the tech sector. BCG cited Airbnb, Alibaba, Fitbit, GoPro, Hulu, Oculus Rift, SnapChat, Tesla and Uber as up-and-coming brands.