Which Brands Truly Inspire? The 2018 Prophet Brand Relevance Index®

Pixar, Pinterest, Marvel, Disney and Nike move consumers as few others can.

Many brands attempt to inspire their customers by their energy, their purpose or by creating a customer experience that is uplifting. Being inspired is one of the most admired and sought-after brand achievements. What brands have gotten there? And which have disappointed on this dimension? Let’s take a look:

The Most Inspiring Brands of 2018

The new 2018 Prophet Brand Relevance Index® (BRI), having the strength of 299 top brands from over 39 categories, was conducted by Prophet. Respondents, who were active in the category and familiar with the brand, provided some answers to key questions surrounding brand relevance. One of the 16 measures in the survey was “whether the brand inspired me”.  From here we looked at the “inspiring” brands from last year and decided to take another look using the 2018 BRI data.

“Being inspired is one of the most admired and sought-after brand achievements.”

Pinterest, again, was the most inspiring brand. They are on a mission to help people discover the things they love and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives. It stretches boundaries by fostering a person’s creativity and desire to try something new with projects—an activity such as cooking for kids, decorating a room in your home, building something new, starting a craft, learning a new exercise, creating a social program, with the list going on and on. One is connected with ideas and people that are also interested in this challenge.

Many of the other inspiration-led brands also enable a person to do or learn something.  This includes Food Network (#2), Etsy (#3), Lego (#4), FitBit (#10), NPR (#11) and M.A.C. (#15).  The experience of these brands promises to deliver connection with others, discovering the new, and create a feeling of creative accomplishment or meaning.

3 Key Routes of Inspiring Brands

Three routes are suggested by the other top “inspiring” brands.

  1. Providing entertaining stories of role models, real or fictitious, that are inspiring. Pixar at #5, Disney at #6 and Marvel at #9, all provide characters and vicarious experiences that can inspire.
  2. Being inspired by the mood or feelings that are put in place. Spotify at #7 and Pandora at #16 create music experiences that can add inspiration to the enjoyment of the moment and even contribute a mindset that leads to excelling in other activities. It is noteworthy that Spotify and Pandora, like Pinterest, also personalize content.
  3. Earning status for being inspiring with products, personality, message, and expectations for customers, which is illustrated by #9 Apple and #12 Nike.

The Category Effect on Inspiring Brands

There is also a strong category effect. Some categories, such as apparel (Nike, Zara, Adidas and Victoria’s Secret), or electronics & gaming (Fitbit, Electronic Arts, PlayStation, Xbox, Bose), did well.  Brands in other categories such as insurance, finance, and telecommunication, do not seem to inspire.

Most categories contain differences in the ability of brands to be inspiring. Can you explain these differences?  Should the weaker brands attempt to close the gap?  If so, how should they go about it?

Here are a few interesting notes collected from the data:

  • Airlines: Southwest was in the top quarter, while American and United were in the bottom.
  • Toys: In general, the toy brands did well, although LEGO and Fisher-Price were decidedly above Hasbro and Mattel.
  • Consumer Products: M.A.C. and Dove were in the top quartile, while mature, functional brands like Tide, Crest, Old Spice (despite some creative positioning), Ziploc, Palmolive, Windex, and Kleenex, were in the bottom quartile. A sidenote—Method, Band-Aid, and Clorox, were high on purpose, a closely-related dimension.
  • Food: Hershey’s, Betty Crocker, and Ben & Jerry’s, were above or close to the top quartile, while Cheerios, Campbell Soup, Oreo, and Dannon, were found in the lowest quartile.
  • Hospitality: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Marriott were in the top quartile, while Carnival Cruise Line, Westin, and Harrah’s, were in the bottom half.
  • Drug and Grocery Stores: Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s were in the top quartile, while CVS, Walgreens, Safeway and 7-Eleven appeared in the lowest quartile.
  • Durables: KitchenAid was a top 20 brand, while Peloton and Keurig were close. Others like Frigidaire were in the bottom quartile, with Bosch, Haier, and Maytag coming in close.
  • Social Media and Internet Services: Although many of these brands have top inspirational scores; Skype, Twitter, Facebook and Yelp were in the bottom half; Yahoo! and Tinder were in the bottom quartile.
  • Beverages: Folgers was in the top quartile but Aquafina, Mountain Dew, Monster, Red Bull, Nissan, and Pepsi appeared in the lowest quartile.
  • Automobiles: Tesla, Toyota, Honda, and Ford were in the top quartile, but Volkswagen was in the bottom quartile with Mercedes close-by.
  • Computing and Software: Apple was a top 20 brand; Sony, Android and Samsung were comfortably in the top quartile. This being said, Huawei, Cortana, Bixby, and Siri were in the bottom quartile.


These data-driven observations should trigger some deep thought and analysis for how to drive inspiration throughout your organization.

Download the 2018 Prophet Brand Relevance Index for more insights regarding inspiring brands.