Brand and Demand: A Love Story

New research coming soon. Pre-register to receive a copy of the report. 

The tension between short-term revenue demand and long-term brand development is top of mind for today’s marketing leaders.  

In 2022, Prophet published our breakthrough research report, Brand and Demand: A Love Story, which explored the need for a balanced approach to both brand and demand marketing. Rooted in quantitative and qualitative data, it was among our most downloaded reports in history and catapulted 100s of conversations with clients as well as landing on the cover of AMA’s Marketing Magazine. 

In the coming weeks, we will continue the conversation with an updated report, with insights and best practices from over 300 senior marketing leaders, about how to effectively integrate brand and demand marketing to power sustainable growth. Thank you to WARC and the ANA for your partnership in this effort. 

Pre-register now to receive a free copy. 

Brand and Demand: Getting the Balance Right

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Nation Branding Beyond Tourism: Key Accelerator to a Country’s Uncommon Growth

Learn how countries can take a long-term and deliberate approach to bring success to nation brand building. 

Recently nation branding has been in the spotlight, with countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia leveraging soft power to elevate their nation’s brand, with varying levels of success. 

Taylor Swift played six sold-out shows in Singapore as part of her Eras Tour. Not only is Singapore estimated to generate $370 million USD in revenue from the shows, it has successfully put itself on the world map, courtesy of videos of Swift’s backup dancer shouting out Singlish phrases on stage, and Swift’s boyfriend – NFL Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce – talking about Singapore’s sights and food on his podcast.  

Saudi Arabia hosted the much-anticipated boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou and will host another blockbuster between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000. Beyond boxing, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) caused shockwaves when it launched LIV Golf, a men’s professional golf tour to rival the well-established PGA Tour in 2022 and lured many of the best men’s golfers. These lucrative events are part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to realize Vision 2030, to be a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. 

Nation Branding Goes Beyond Tourism

Just like consumer goods, nations can be branded and marketed to audiences. Brands are a critical driver of growth. And nations, like any business, need to be constantly building, nurturing, and refining their brands, or risk losing relevance and competitiveness. 

What often comes to mind when it comes to a nation’s branding is its tourism campaigns. Think “Malaysia, Truly Asia”, “Amazing Thailand, Always Amazes You”, or Australia’s “Come and Say G’Day”. 

But nation branding goes beyond a tourism campaign or slogan. When done right, it is a long-term and holistic masterplan across key economic sectors, infrastructure, talent, education and culture. 

In an increasingly fractured and uncertain world where the flow of capital, talent and commerce is being re-cast, it has never been more important for nations to get their branding right and take control of how they are perceived by locals, tourists, investors and partners.

Take two countries in different regions demonstrating the success of a long-term and clear plan in their nation branding – Estonia and Singapore. 

Estonia: A Connected Society 

Since resuming independence in 1991, Estonia developed a clear ambition to be a digital society. Investing heavily in digital infrastructure, it has become the first e-State with the e-Estonia program, where 99% of public services are digitally managed and available online, ranging from taxes, parking, prescriptions, voting and more.  

To facilitate its status as a successful technological start-up hub, Estonia introduced a range of initiatives to attract skilled talent. It simplified the immigration processes for foreign talent hired (e.g. exemptions from immigration quota for non-EU nationals), offers startup and digital nomad visas, and offers services by Work in Estonia program (e.g. free international recruitment consultation over Skype) to ensure hiring and providing work for foreign talent is as simple as possible for businesses. 

As a result, Estonia ranks #1 in unicorns per capita in Europe, and Tallinn was named the most intelligent community in 2020

Singapore: An Innovation-Driven Economy Hub 

Singapore launched its “Passion Made Possible” brand in 2017, indicating a shift from being an investment-driven economy to one led by innovation. Through targeted investments, it has established itself as a leading regional hub in high-growth areas such as financial services, technology, digital and sustainability. To boost its pool of tech talent with a special focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is collaborating with other governmental partners including SkillsFuture Singapore and private sector associations such as SGTech and Singapore Computer Society, to help companies equip their employees with AI skills. IMDA also launched a $22.4 million USD fund in 2022 to support researchers in developing new innovative green computing solutions. 

As a regional hub of innovation, Singapore boasts 25 unicorns (the highest in the region) and accounts for 56% of total venture capital deal volume across the six largest Southeast Asian economies in 2022. 

A Nation’s Brand Must Be a Reflection of Its People’s Identity

While it is important to develop a long-term vision and master plan, a nation’s brand cannot be created in isolation. It must reflect the identity of its people, culture, heritage and history. 

In addition to its investment in high-growth areas such as technology and sustainability, Singapore has made sure that its brand reflects its culture and heritage. It launched the Made with Passion initiative in 2020 to give local lifestyle brands greater access to local and international audiences with innovative new experiences. These experiences, such as creating Peranakan-inspired coasters, are one method by which Singapore celebrates its rich multicultural heritage. Food is also key to Singapore’s brand. As an Indian newspaper described it, “If eating was a national sport, Singaporeans would ace it”. Singapore’s brand as a culinary destination is evident in both the prestigious cuisine (e.g. hosting two editions of Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards, boasting 55 restaurants with a Michelin star), and the local fare found in hawker centers. 

New Zealand is another example of nation branding that is true to its people and culture. Known for its unspoiled nature and greenery, cleanliness, high standards of living, and robust governance, New Zealand is a brand associated with trustworthiness, honesty, transparency, and passion for protecting its land. This guardianship of the land and its people reflects indigenous Māori culture and values. 

A Nation’s Brand Starts With a Purpose

As a first step, nations that are considering a re-brand need to define and clearly articulate their ambition. This serves as their North Star and guides their decision-making around what their core beliefs are, what benefits they wish to deliver to their people, and what key areas they want to focus on. 


While it can be difficult to develop a nation’s brand, taking a long-term and deliberate approach pays off. Nations need to follow a process, be targeted and deliberate in their investments for the brand to deliver meaningful impact to the nation and their people. We have already seen countries such as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Estonia, and New Zealand reap the benefits of building a brand that is holistic, cohesive, long-term and true of its people, culture, and heritage. 


CMO Focus: Four Trends to Watch in 2024

Marketing leaders must be everything, everywhere, all at once. Here’s how they’re prepping for the challenges ahead. 

Chief marketing officers are some of our favorite people, and as we were putting together our annual list of predictions for the year ahead, we got a fast reminder why. Despite an uncertain economy, changing expectations from CEOs, and fast-rising media rates, marketers remain as optimistic as ever.  

We spoke to more than 25 senior marketers to get their take on the challenges they’re facing and where they plan to prioritize in the coming year. Their belief in the power of creativity and new ideas keeps growing. And they’re continuing to beat the drum on the importance of testing and learning, innovating, and being at the forefront of leveraging AI to help them achieve uncommon growth. 

As CMOs settle into the expanding remit of their role, they’re increasingly confident about broader opportunities. Many now have ownership of growth initiatives and transformation efforts. They are overseeing efforts to drive both brand and demand and are responsible for orchestrating numerous, impactful touchpoints throughout the entire customer journey. One leader we interviewed told us it’s like that movie, “We have to be everything, everywhere, all at once.” 

These leaders see themselves as fully in the driver’s seat, organizational change-makers, providing the voice of the customer to advocate for new capabilities. They are connecting dots across more functions. They are operating at two speeds: balancing the need to deliver in-quarter results with setting up longer-term growth moves, all while navigating continued outside-in disruption. 

Here are four predictions we expect to see in 2024. 

Trend #1: Finding Uncommon Growth in the Storm 

It’s certainly not news to CMOs that they’re navigating turbulent markets. Yet they’re cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead, with 49% saying they are more upbeat about the U.S. economy than last quarter. According to a recent study by Deloitte, only 22% are less optimistic. According to Forrester, 80% expect a marketing budget increase, albeit a modest one, going into 2024. No wonder 75% of senior marketers in a recent Gartner survey say they’re expected to do more with less. 

They’re on a tightrope, juggling near-term tactics while planning long-term growth goals. A recent Salesforce survey of marketers finds that 76% say they feel more responsibility to drive growth – proof indeed that more enterprises are recognizing marketing’s power to increase revenue. 

As many marketing leaders have taken on more commercial responsibility, that pressure keeps building. “Previously, my role focused on communications and driving colleague engagement,” says the CMO of a leading advisory firm. “Now it’s shifted to driving topline growth while carving out greater differentiation.” 

“The world has gotten very complicated, yet organizations are facing pressure to grow at the same pace as when the world was less volatile,” agrees the CMO of a commercial real estate company. “All of this is making it even more difficult to get your message out.” 

“The big challenge now is not to overcompensate,” says a leading building supply company marketer. “We didn’t overspend when things were good. So let’s not underspend when things are bad.” 

But these leaders know their role is more significant than deciding where to dial back spending. “What got us here won’t get us there,” says a CMO at a top-tier financial company. And like 83% of respondents in the Gartner study, the marketing strategies her team has come to rely on in the last two years are markedly different than those of the past.  

Critical to this evolution –and any and all growth– is a greater-than-ever push toward customer centricity. “Do we really understand our customers? That’s what keeps me up at night,” says a top marketer at a financial advisory company. 

As marketers grapple with being asked to do more with less resources while simultaneously proving value from their marketing investments, it will become even more critical in 2024 to be able to prove ROI by translating business objectives into quantifiable customer goals. Actively defining and measuring against clear KPIs will be key to allowing marketers to quickly pivot to optimize their efforts to deliver better outcomes.  

Trend #2: Acing the Marketing Basics While Leaving Room for Experimentation 

Most of the CMOs we spoke to say that they are getting more comfortable operating in a post-pandemic marketing environment that is often turbulent and unpredictable. 

Finding better ways to integrate brand and demand strategies is at the top of that list. While there is a short-term swing towards demand, brand continues to play an essential role. Finding the right ratios remains critical, but the old-school separation no longer works. “Companies that separate budgets and teams between brand and demand do so at their disadvantage,” says the CMO of one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies. “Every touchpoint informs perception of the brand, and every brand touchpoint needs to deliver business.” 

“I want my budget all looked at through an integrated model,” agrees a top financial marketer. “I’m a big believer in brand and demand.”  

Generative AI, already critical to 56% of marketers, is taking on more importance, with 80% of those in the Forrester survey saying they intend to use generative AI in the next year. Blogs are the most common use, named by 65%, followed by website copy at 62%. 

Updated techniques to track ROI, with data and analytics emerging as the new rocket science, are also on top of CMOs’ “must-do” lists. Even as 63% of the marketers in Forrester’s research are amping up martech investments, Salesforce finds that 72% struggle to measure the impact, and 43% find it hard to track customers across the journey. CMOs are becoming increasingly vocal about these glaring blind spots. “Someone needs to figure out …” is a refrain constantly echoing throughout marketing departments when it comes to marketing measurement and attribution.  

Leaders are determined to remedy that problem in the coming year. “We look at marketing-attributed revenue, particularly inbound leads driven by digital or other channels,” says a senior financial services marketer. “We also look at how effectively we sell differentiated service bundles tied to our client needs. To measure the success of our business development enablement, we look at win rates and the service portfolio’s overall growth.” 

Other hot-button issues that were mentioned? More innovative ways to track the cost, benefits and risks of influencer marketing, and social issues, particularly in reaching Gen Z.  

What does this mean for marketers in 2024? Despite pressures from boards and executive teams to deliver near-term results, CMOs need to continue to support longer-term priorities that they know will be important over time. Allowing space for experimentation, whether it’s with new AI technology, martech or channel strategies, will help guide where to invest without over-indexing on long-term or short-term growth ambitions.  

Trend #3: Acting as Organizational Change-Makers 

Getting the foundational basics right is vital. But it’s not enough. To create transformational growth, CMOs are becoming digital leaders, stepping more forcefully into corporate grey areas. Although marketing leaders currently lead 70% of digital transformations, even more are grabbing the reins. “There is a void,” says a marketer at a large regional health organization. “No one owns the full digital transformation, so we are just taking it on.” 

As the role of marketing has expanded, they believe it’s time to shake up the operating model. In Gartner’s research, 86% of marketers agree that their organization must change how it works to achieve sustainable results. 

CMOs need to think about themselves as connectors and integrators. They should think cross-functionally across departments, linking channels and disciplines across products and experiences. This year, 37% say their teams are fully integrated, up from 19% a year ago according to Deloitte’s CMO study. 

For those lucky enough to work for C-suites who have fully bought into this level of collaboration, it’s easier to make progress. “Building strong relationships between functional leaders based on transparency, empathy, and mutual benefit, has been instrumental in breaking down silos and achieving better outcomes,” says a CMO from a large retailer, who now calls her bond with the head of product one of the tightest partnerships she’s ever had. “It’s been an absolute game changer.”’ 

As marketing’s responsibilities shift and expand, finding opportunities for cross-functional collaboration not only helps break down internal silos but also creates better outcomes for customers. Marketing leaders have a real opportunity to be catalysts for change across their organizations, and they should be ready to lead the charge.  

Trend #4: Leaning into Creativity 

What’s perhaps most exciting, is that even as they build teams with new skills, capabilities and competencies, leaders are less bashful about what drew them to marketing in the first place: The power of creativity and ideas. 

CMOs say this creativity still plays a critical role in differentiating brands. They find joy in investing in the brand and seeing how creativity helps them stand out, increase revenues and gain relevance. They are building moments that matter, and ultimately that lead to sustainable growth. 

“I still believe in the power of big ideas,” says one CMO. “When problems need solving, traditional creativity always wins.” 

As pressure builds to deliver and prove ROI, creativity often takes a backseat. But it would be a mistake to overlook the power of creativity, and how it allows brands to connect with customers on a meaningful level. Marketers understand this and should continue to push for inspiration that’s driven by deep and authentic creativity. 


As the year draws to a close, we’d like to salute marketing leaders for constantly looking for new perspectives. It takes persistent imagination, optimism and a growth mindset to thrive in these conditions, and you’re a constant source of inspiration. As we step into the new year, we invite you to share your thoughts on the challenges you foresee and the strategies you’ll use. Here’s to a year filled with new possibilities and uncommon growth.


2023 Brand Winners and Losers: From Taylor Swift, Ozempic and Open AI, to Elon Musk and X, WeWork and Delta Airlines 

See our annual list of the most relevant brands and those that missed the mark.

In the dynamic landscape of 2023, the year unfolded with notable brand winners and losers. From AI formally entering our daily lexicon to Elon leaving most of us scratching our heads, the year was truly memorable. To start, noteworthy comebacks were observed with Peloton, UGG, and Cameo (tied to its new savior, George Santos), while Dollar General gained relevance among millennials. On the flip side, Macy’s, Rite-Aid, and Bed Bath & Beyond faced waning – even disappearing – relevance. Once again, we saw Marriott rule the world, launching its 500th luxury hotel, while stalwart brand winner Unilever admitted it lost its purpose-based way. J.P. Morgan seamlessly absorbed First Republic Bank, while Goldman Sachs and Apple had a breakup, in which the financial powerhouse got the short end of the PR stick. The MLB had its Ohtani moment, the NFL continues to have its pop-star moments, the NBA and NHL welcomed new teenage superstars, Victor Wembanyama of the Spurs and Connor Bedard of the Blackhawks, and Messi continues his enduring reign in the soccer world by joining MLS. 

BeReal, a darling a year ago, is now facing BeReality, similar to both Impossible and Beyond’s daunting market growth challenges. And no one’s sure what to make of the streaming platforms in 2023 as they continue to multiply, fragment and push confusing price tiers. Although the O.G, Netflix, continues to hum along, with revenues growing to $33 billion, and its wildly successful (and somewhat controversial) ad-supported plan coming in for the bargain price of $6.99. Speaking of an O.G., Bravo certainly had a year for the ages, with its massive Scandoval zeitgeist moment on Vanderpump Rules. In contrast, Marvel had its worst year since before Iron Man, who may need to come back and save the day, and Max bid farewell to its older sibling, HBO.   

Speaking of the big screen, who had Beyonce and Taylor Swift’s box office grosses rivaling those of their concerts or A24 being a studio with a business model that would survive two crushing strikes? We can’t talk about brand winners and losers without mentioning Amazon, a multi-year past brand winner, which, in a testament to its enduring prowess, surpassed $35 billion in BTB sales, a marketplace not officially launched until just over five years ago. Or TikTok, which just launched their e-commerce shop with the potential to disintermediate traditional big-box players – we’ll be looking to 2024 to see how this one shakes out.  

To get to the best and worst brands, I once again turned to my 600 global Prophet colleagues for their take on 2023’s biggest brand winners and losers. Unsurprisingly, there was very little debate on which brands ended up on top and which sunk to the bottom. Without further ado, here are 2023’s brand winners and losers. 

2023 Brand Winners 

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift ‘enchanted’ us all this year, achieving brand strength and longevity that few, if any, can match. Her widespread appeal transcends generations and demographics, even extending into sports where although she may be dating Travis Kelce, the NFL has its own love story with the pop megastar. Swift’s dominance in the entertainment industry is indisputable, with her Eras tour poised to become the first to gross over a billion dollars and subsequently generate substantial economic impact in the cities and countries visited, a phenomenon coined the “Taylor Effect.” As Time Magazine articulated in its Person of the Year article, “She’s the last monoculture left in our stratified world.” 


Dubbed “the worst-kept secret in Hollywood,” the soaring popularity of Ozempic and other semaglutide medications has become an industry spectacle. Originally conceived to assist diabetes patients in blood sugar management, the unexpected side effect of rapid weight loss has led to skyrocketing popularity. The medication is now in high demand, not only from those who can genuinely benefit but also from individuals seeking a swift solution for shedding extra pounds.  With weight loss industry leaders such as, WeightWatchers and Noom taking notice, and strategically integrating semaglutide into their 2023 offerings, we likely won’t see the last of the Ozempic craze in 2024. 


What an extraordinary moment for an iconic brand that had everyone embracing pink this year! The Barbie movie concluded its unprecedented 12-week run at the box office with an impressive $1.43 billion in ticket sales and multiple records – including highest-grossing film of 2023 and Warner Brothers’ all-time highest-grossing film. Barbie’s impact extended beyond the theaters too, creating a vast ecosystem of partnerships, media coverage, and consumer engagement.  From the Barbie Malibu Café to a real-life Dreamhouse available on Airbnb, curated experiences helped to drive engagement and connection to both the film and the iconic brand. 

Open AI/Chat GPT/Sam Altman

In November 2022, the San Francisco-based startup Open AI unveiled ChatGPT, a chatbot demonstrating the remarkable ability to generate human-like responses. Though not the first of its kind, ChatGPT’s meteoric rise was unrivaled, growing from a niche online phenomenon to amassing a staggering 100 million monthly users in only two months – a faster user growth rate than both Instagram and TikTok combined.  However, it’s important to note the past year has not been all smooth sailing as moral and privacy concerns continue to mount, around the use or misuse of AI.  Nonetheless, Open AI, ChatGPT and Sam Altman have collectively captured both our attention and imaginations. 


Despite the allure of flashiness, Microsoft has continued to impress, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the business world. Microsoft’s enduring spirit of innovation was put on display with its shrewd investment in OpenAI, highlighting a commitment to staying at the forefront of emerging technologies. With its adept handling of the OpenAI situation involving Sam Altman, and CEO Satya Nadella quickly jumping in to announce support for both parties, Microsoft’s brand image was cemented as THE leader in AI, further underscoring Microsoft’s strategic acuity. 

2023 Brand Losers 

Elon Musk and X

In a span of just over a year, Elon Musk’s reputation transformed from eccentric billionaire to controversial narcissist, with disruptive influence on terrestrial and space domains. The pivotal shift occurred with his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and subsequent rebrand to X. Musk, known for reshaping industries, overhauled X, eliminating checks and balances present on other social media platforms. This ultimately positioned X as a haven for conspiracy theorists– with Musk even personally amplifying attacks on traditional media.  And the reinstatement of divisive figures like Alex Jones eroded more goodwill in the past 12 months than I’ve observed in the past 25 years of studying brands. 


Despite its upcoming monumental IPO surpassing the $100 billion mark, its popularity on Instagram, and endorsements from influencers like Khloé Kardashian, the stark reality of Shein reveals a troubling history of human rights violations and an environmentally unsustainable business model. The fast fashion giant, as reported by Time Magazine, leaves a staggering 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually in its wake, raising concerns about its impact on both the environment and employee rights, within and outside of China. As Shein’s financial success continues to rise, the question looms: when will consumers become more conscientious about the implications of supporting such practices? 


Former brand winner WeWork filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, finally putting a pin in Adam Neumann’s world domination plans for good.  A combination of inflated egos, financial mismanagement, problematic leases, conflicts with landlords and realtors, unhappy tenants, and the impact of COVID contributed to the unraveling of WeWork’s grand plan to transform the workplace with stylish offices featuring perks like free beer, game rooms, and abundant food. While some iteration of WeWork may persist in the future, the company’s valuation, once at $47 billion just four years ago, has plummeted to $45 million, prompting a restructuring plan for 92% of the company’s secured debt. 


Sometimes a good business can have a bad brand year, and this is the case with Delta. The airline’s shift this past year towards a spending-based status system, coupled with restricted airport club access, encountered widespread social media criticism, helping competitors sweep formerly loyal customers.  Acknowledging the misstep, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian, recently signaled a reevaluation, stating, “I think we moved too fast, and we are looking at it now.”  Yet, amid additional challenges such as a biohazard emergency on a flight from Atlanta to Barcelona and reported on-time performance issues, Delta continues to navigate brand setbacks, aiming for a more positive trajectory in the year ahead.   


In 2023, the NCAA underwent a profound transformation, shifting from modest to sprawling and self-indulgent – prioritizing its interests over those of student-athletes. The advent of NIL deals for high school players, a dynamic transfer portal encouraging shifts from smaller schools to powerhouses, and burgeoning TV deals paving the way for 20-team super leagues resembling professional sports all mark a departure from collegiate ideals. Moreover, scrutiny is warranted on the substantial seven-figure salaries for college sports coaches and administrators. Amidst these changes, the question arises: when will this trajectory cease, and how will mid-tier athletes navigate the evolving landscape?  


As mentioned, 2023 was one for the brand winner/loser record books. I would love to hear from you – which brands do you think were the biggest winners and losers this year? 


Brand Ambition: The Secret to Sustainable Growth

As many companies struggle to find meaningful sales gains, we’ve isolated an essential element of value creation.   

The most successful businesses are often the most ambitious. A corollary is that when brands find it increasingly difficult to deliver meaningful growth, the cause is often a case of stunted ambition.  

Marketing leaders understand their company’s vision, purpose and mission. And they’ve invested in crafting inspired brand positionings. But ask them about brand ambition – how the brand delivers on the Purpose and the role the brand plays in value creation – and they might not have a clear response. Ambition represents a powerful and critical part of bridging corporate and brand strategy. It can turn a brand into a fast-moving growth engine, powering commercial success throughout the organization. 

Having a clearly defined ambition matters. Prophet’s ongoing research on brand relevance has shown that ambition is the spark that ignites brands and helps to define “who we are” as a brand, serving as a roadmap for setting and achieving future goals.  Ambition is more than just reaching sales objectives. It enables brands to find new ways of connecting and evolving, which allows them to outpace the competition by gaining market share, earning customer loyalty and unlocking new sources of business growth. Ambition should:  

  • Articulate the overall business impact a brand is trying to create. 
  • Translate the organizational purpose, making sure it is tangible, pursuable, and connected to the company’s strategic focus.  
  • Emphasize the role of the brand in value creation.  

Once an ambition has been defined, brands can deploy it to galvanize internal stakeholders across the organization around a strategic and inspiring future vision. It becomes a core commercial tenet informing investments, in-market activations and experiences, creating a sense of cohesion and progress toward that future state. 

Ambition should not be confused with purpose. Purpose is the value a company brings to the world, above and beyond products and services. Ambition represents how the brand will deliver on that Purpose and the value it will create for the business in doing so. The best ambitions involve a figurative handshake between the CMO and CEO, enabling the brand to create tangible value by paving the way for growth opportunities, reaching new customers, segments and products. By having a clearly defined ambition, you can effectively translate your business strategy into a brand goal.  

Ambitious brands find ways to stand out as category leaders. Airbnb, for example, is all-in on delivering memorable experiences. Sure, it gives customers convenient lodging at great prices, like many competitors, and provides a platform for homeowners similar to VRBO. But only Airbnb is likely to send guests on a hike with a pack of well-trained German Shepherds, connect them with certified tea masters in Japan, or book them into historic castles in Scotland. It has defined its future state as an integrated travel and experiences company and actively builds towards it, deepening revenue streams and unlocking new ones. And consumers have taken notice – Prophet’s brand relevance research identifies Airbnb as the most relevant hospitality brand, performing especially well on the emotional, “Heart” facets of brand relevance. The brand leads consumer perceptions on key attributes, such as “Engages with me in new and creative ways”, and “is always finding new ways to meet my needs.” As the travel industry continues its rebound, it is no surprise that Airbnb’s share price is up over 50% YTD (at the time of this writing). 

Zelle is another ambitious brand. Instead of wanting to be like other disruptive fintech players, its goal is the reverse: It wants to play well with others. Zelle maintains its best-in-breed status by working within the ecosystem of legacy retail banks, constantly seeking new ways to help people manage money digitally without cutting ties to their bank. The brand is front-facing and actively supported by large-scale banking partners, playing a leading role in creating consumer routines in financial transactions. And it is a great example of how a brand can play a primary role in value creation. In our research, Zelle emerged as one of the most relevant financial services brands, with strong performance on more rational, “Head” factors. The brand leads on key dimensions related to trust, consistency, and dependability. And even with an ambition that is less disruption and more connection, Zelle is seen as a “modern, and in touch” brand. 

Is it Time to Elevate Your Brand Ambition? 

A hallmark of ambitious companies is that they generally make their ambitions known. Look no further than their 10-Ks, earnings calls, and letters from the CEO. They describe their growth plans and what they intend the company to look like in the next five to 10 years. 

But many companies – and we’d argue most –could benefit from reevaluating their brand ambition to ensure it addresses current market conditions and the right future outlook. Increased competitive intensity, disruption from new entrants and systemic regulatory or technology changes all create the need for a more elevated ambition. So can changes in consumer behavior and cultural shifts among critical stakeholders. 

Any one of these factors can lead to several negative outcomes. A slowdown in growth is the most obvious, but any indication of declining relevance or customer engagement – even if those haven’t yet affected revenue – is cause for concern. Organizational distress, declining employee satisfaction and a less-engaged workforce are also warning signs. Other indicators include unstructured brand and marketing efforts, varied campaigns with no clear strategy or messaging.  

Companies can assess their ambition by asking themselves three questions: 

  1. Is the brand acting in service of and playing a leading role in delivering on corporate strategy?
  2. Does the business know our customers well enough to know how the brand is improving people’s lives today and into the future?
  3. How well do those brand benefits align with the company’s current assessment of strategic growth areas? 

How to Define or Refine Brand Ambition 

If any of those answers seem unclear, it’s time to clarify and evolve the brand’s ambition. To get started, take a fresh look at the current customers and consider the sources of value and future growth while integrating a detailed understanding of the growth landscape into the new ambition. Consider these critical elements by asking: 

Is there a clear customer target, an inspirational purpose or a compelling positioning? And how does it establish the target future state for the brand? 

KitchenAid continues to build relevance with modern cooks. It understands that the ways people prepare food may change, leading the way with spiralizers, air fryers and appliance innovations. But it also knows kitchen creativity is timeless, making that iconic stand mixer a “real cooks live here” status symbol for decades. KitchenAid is perennially ranked as one of the most relevant brands, and setting the right ambition has meant that the brand leads the category on measures of dependability, trust, and consistency, while also making consumers feel inspired. 

What are our core beliefs that guide and inspire actions?  

Companies should understand the needs they fulfill today to envision doing it better tomorrow. Hoka’s mission is lofty, making athletes feel like they can fly. But it also has an ever-expanding definition of who it serves, like nurses, who average 16,000 steps per shift. It also reconsiders when it helps people, with casual trainers designed for recovery among its fastest-growing styles. Sales are up nearly 60% YoY, and parent company Decker is confident it will soon be a $2 billion brand – assuming it stays true to its ambition.  

What business are we in, and how might the brand allow the company to execute its corporate strategy? 

Barbie may be getting most of Mattel’s buzz, but the company has also expanded its ambitions in other products, including Hot Wheels. While it still sells plenty of diecast cars and connecting tracks, its new purpose is to ignite the challenger spirit within kids, encouraging them to try, fail, and try again. That commitment to fostering grit and resilience works not just with its classic toys and tracks but also with the fast-growing universe of Hot Wheel’s games and digital content. And despite being in a category that is in constant upheaval, and subject to rapidly changing consumer preferences, company shares are up over 18% at the time of this writing. 

This question calls for a fresh take on customers, looking for sources of value and future growth in adjacent categories. Direct-to-consumer brands continue to school legacy companies in their ability to quickly move into new categories and channels. Liquid Death, the cult water brand, now sells Rest in Peach and the Grim Leafer iced teas. E.L.F. Cosmetics is using dupe thinking to make sticky primers a must-have. Chewy has moved into veterinary services and pet insurance, all on the back of an exceptional commitment to service for pet owners.  

Is our ambition flying at the right altitude?  

It risks organizational uncertainty if it’s too lofty, intangible, or unrealistic. If it is too close in – for instance, reducing brand performance to battles for share points – it leaves no runway for growth, expansion or progress. Ambition defines a clear and pursuable path for future advancement.  

Calm, the meditation app that consistently scores as one of the most inspirational and emotionally engaged brands in our relevance research, learned how to soothe and provide supportive mediative guides to tens of millions over the last several years. That gave the company the conviction for its next ambitious move, with clinical mental health.  


Marketing leaders often overlook their brand’s ambition, a vital link between corporate and brand strategy. Ambition inspires stakeholders and fosters cohesion. Regularly revisiting it ensures alignment with market changes and ensures continued delivery of real customer value. Key elements include a clear customer target, alignment with corporate strategy, and a clearly defined role that the brand plays in creating value, providing a pursuable and measurable path for uncommon growth. 

Ready to build an ambition that powers your growth engine? Contact us today. 


Aaker on Brands: The Five Pillars of City Branding

David Aaker shares five strategic considerations for building a city brand. 

Cities are not products, but they still need branding. “The Big Apple” New York, “The Fashion Capital” Paris, “The Lion City” Singapore…these cities have left a profound impression in the minds of people worldwide with their distinctive identities, attracting tourists, talents and investments while becoming a hallmark of their respective countries. Why do cities need branding, and how should they go about it? 

David Aaker, Vice Chairman at Prophet,  recently shared his perspectives on branding cities at the 2023 World Cities Branding Conference in Macao, China. Aaker proposes that building a strong brand for a city requires strategic thinking in five key areas: 

  1. Clarify Brand Objective and Target Audience
  2. Define the Brand’s Value Proposition
  3. Create Brand Symbols
  4. Coordinate Brand Storytellers
  5. Build Partnerships to Strengthen the Brand

This article explores how Singapore has successfully branded itself using the key strategic considerations for building a city brand. 

1. Clarify Brand Objective and Target Audience  

A city’s brand usually aims to attract tourists (develop tourism), talents (develop high-tech industries) or investments (revitalize the local economy). It is thus essential to define the city’s development goals and understand the needs and characteristics of the target audience in order to guide actions. 

Singapore, often referred to as the “Lion City,” is a prime example of a “city-state” known for its thriving financial services sector and tourism industry. It is also the economic hub of Southeast Asia, leading the fast growth of the region. To cater to diverse international tourists, the Singapore Tourism Board explored the potential interests of tourists. By pairing these interests with the key characteristics of Singaporean locals, they were able to identify several key segments based on the lifestyles and interests of different target audiences, for example: Foodies, Explorers, Collectors, Socialisers, Action Seekers and Culture Shapers. The Singapore Economic Development Board, responsible for attracting investments, also recognized the importance of city branding and in 2017, they collaborated with the Tourism Board to jointly launch the “Passion Made Possible” campaign to accelerate economic growth. 

Image source: 

2. Define the Brand’s Value Proposition 

Once the city’s brand objectives and target audiences have been identified, it’s important to develop a value proposition. All subsequent brand communications and activations will revolve around this proposition. 

Singapore’s brand proposition has evolved over time, from being known as the “Garden City” in the 1960s and 70s to “New Asia, Singapore” after the Asian financial crisis and “Uniquely Singapore” in the 21st century.  

Singapore is unique as it is both a country and a city. For other countries, it is crucial for stakeholders to consider a few key questions – How should the country balance the integrity of its national brand with the distinctiveness of its city brands? How could it leverage the positive image of the region to drive urban growth, and conversely, how should it align the diverse identities of its cities with the holistic values of the country?  

For example, Prophet partnered with the Abu Dhabi Culture and Tourism Authority to develop its brand and marketing strategy. We created the value proposition “Experience Abu Dhabi. Find Your Pace,” paying tribute to the cultural heritage of the UAE while emphasizing the local culture of Abu Dhabi. 

3. Create Brand Symbols 

Cities are an aggregation of complex symbols in time and space. In the communications of city brands, it is the symbols that provide audiences with intuitive and tangible experiences. They are symbolic elements rooted in a city’s cultures and communities. Identifying the most representative symbols can make the city branding even more impactful. 

In addition to the iconic Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Tourism Board recently developed a variety of other cultural sites, such as Chinatown, Little India, Orchard Road, and Sentosa Island, to enrich the experiences of international travelers and strengthen the local communities. 

Image source: Unsplash 

4. Build Partnerships to Strengthen the Brand 

Typically, the local tourism board is responsible for overseeing the promotion of a city’s tourism ambitions. However, the tourism industry often involves a wide range of departments, including public management and cultural innovation. Moreover, the marketing budget and operational capacity allowed for one department is also limited. Therefore, partnerships across departments and the private sector should be leveraged for amplified results. 

The Singapore government coordinates urban planning to create an inclusive, green, sustainable, vibrant and convenient city. It also actively collaborates with leading enterprises to co-create the city brand. For example, Changi Airport, one of Asia’s busiest airports, plays a significant role as Singapore’s gateway. With impressive indoor features and efficient passenger experiences, it leaves a remarkable impression on international travelers. The construction of Terminal 5, currently underway, embodies the concept of “The Airport, The City,” as emphasized by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a recent speech. With partnerships across sectors, a city can harness social resources to continuously strengthen its brand image. 

Changi Airport (Image source: Unsplash) 

5. Inject Fresh Energy into the Brand 

Just as commercial brands need to capture consumers’ heads and hearts, the marketing of a city also needs to evolve with time, creating fresh experiences consistently. Singapore has introduced various events and festivals, such as the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown, Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, and music festivals featuring international headliners, to keep its image fresh and exciting in people’s minds. 

Image source: Unsplash 

We recommend carefully evaluating and deploying the five key areas when it comes to city branding, in order to establish a city brand with lasting impact with resonating meanings. 


Cities as brands are on the rise globally. To succeed, they must learn from the best practices of influential city brands. Unlike consumer goods, cities endure over time, accumulating and passing down history. Therefore, the brands built for them must also transcend time and respond to the trends of the era. 

To learn more about building an impactful destination brand, contact us today. 


Breathing Life into GenAI-Powered Brand Communications with Verbal Strategy

With the rise of GenAI, brands must not overlook the importance of verbal strategy to ensure their content marketing is purposeful and human-centric.  

The integration of Generative AI (GenAI) tools into modern marketing and communication workflows has sparked a content creation revolution. Businesses across industries are recognizing the potential of AI-assisted writing to streamline content generation, enhance efficiency and improve collaboration. A recent Gartner survey revealed that nearly half of marketing leaders have already integrated GenAI tools into their workflows, with another 43% planning to follow suit. 

The advent of GenAI, combined with a robust verbal branding strategy, offers a remarkable opportunity for businesses to elevate their marketing effectiveness to new heights. By harnessing the capabilities of technology alongside human experience, a powerful synergy can be achieved, captivating audiences and forging authentic connections. While AI undoubtedly streamlines content creation, it is the human-centric strategy that truly breathes life into words, allowing brands to leave an indelible mark on their customers. 

Driving Impactful Brand Communications Through Verbal Strategy, not Words 

At Prophet, our approach to branding is deeply human-centric, driven by the understanding of businesses’ overarching vision and objectives. Regardless of whether the goal is to stimulate demand, ignite transformation, or nurture customer loyalty, brand strategies must be strategically aligned with these pivotal business imperatives. 

In a landscape filled with the allure of advertising and captivating social campaigns, visuals and imagery often command the spotlight. However, a vital strategic element tends to be overlooked – verbal branding. Verbal branding extends far beyond catchy slogans and memorable jingles. It encompasses the strategic use of language across diverse touch points, including voice, messaging, content strategy, and copywriting, all aimed at conveying a brand’s essence and forging emotional connections with the audience. 

A successful verbal strategy ensures a consistent and distinctive presence across all consumer touchpoints – encompassing social media, digital marketing, and product interfaces. By meticulously defining a verbal branding strategy, businesses can carve out a unique space for themselves within a competitive marketplace, striking a resounding chord with their intended audience. 

Harnessing the Power of GenAI in Verbal Branding 

Despite having a well-defined verbal strategy, businesses often encounter numerous challenges during execution. From managing content volume and cadence, investing in talents and suppliers, creating iterations and personalization, to ensuring effective collaboration across departments and accurately measuring return on investment (ROI), the path to successful verbal branding is rarely straightforward. 

AI, when strategically applied under the guidance of human experts, can prove to be a game-changer for businesses looking to overcome these hurdles. GenAI can play a vital role in content generation, coordination, and data analysis, leading to increased efficiency, cost reduction, and an overall improvement in the effectiveness of branding efforts. 

1. Generate formulated copy for digital marketing.

For digital marketing, marketers often need to generate precise yet personalized messages at scale – a task that’s highly time-consuming, technical and repetitive. GenAI-powered platforms like ChatGPT are transforming digital marketing by enabling rapid content generation and producing various copy variations, given the appropriate guidance. Emergent platforms like Lokalise have also allowed for content localization, especially across different languages, and are much more efficient. Additionally, through metadata and machine learning technologies, AI tools can also improve content personalization. For example, CopyAI is a tool that specializes in personalized sales copy and dynamic social media content. The interactive AI interface allows marketers to experiment with different angles and variations, leading to more effective and compelling messaging. 

However, verbal strategy and language refinement remain indispensable in this process. While GenAI can churn out content quickly, human experts are needed to define the brand’s tone of voice, verbal strategy and personalization tactics, while curating and elevating AI-generated copy. In this process, human expertise remains crucial to edit, refine, build, and take the content to the next level. Only through the experienced guidance of human experts, can businesses create impactful and authentic content that resonates with their target audience. 

2. Provide insights and baselines for content marketing.

AI excels in synthesizing data and thus can help writers generate topic ideas by identifying trending topics, competitive keywords, and popular content formats. Platforms like Jasper and Content at Scale can do just that. Such assistance can save marketers valuable time in brainstorming ideas for content that’s relevant and engaging at a high cadence. Moreover, GenAI-powered tools can be used to identify grammatical errors and enhance the overall readability of content. 

Despite these remarkable strides in AI capabilities, the skillset of experienced writers and verbal experts are irreplaceable in content marketing. Developing content calendars based on brand strategy demands a deep understanding of the brand’s marketing priorities, target audience and business objectives. Additionally, human creativity and expertise play a crucial role in crafting high-quality content that is literarily masterful while seamlessly aligning with the brand’s vision to resonate with the audience on a more fundamental level. 

3. Optimize the conversational experience of chatbots.

Customer service is a critical touchpoint for brands, and providing seamless support is essential for building customer loyalty. Chatbots and digital assistants have emerged as powerful tools to enhance business resilience in this aspect. By offering immediate support, reducing operational expenses and capturing valuable customer insights, these AI tools are reshaping the customer service landscape. Although they primarily rely on Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, companies are now integrating GenAI into Chatbots to make the experiences richer and more seamless. 

However, ensuring a comprehensive brand strategy is in place is vital for creating outstanding conversational experiences. Brand strategy, on the one hand, plays a pivotal role in defining the role of the chatbot in the brand portfolio. On the other hand, it is equally important for creating and implementing detailed verbal guidelines for AI-driven interactions. By designing chatbots’ identities through branded personas, businesses can deliver immersive experiences to their customers that are not only authentic but also instrumental to their brand strategies. For example, we partnered with AXA to create a humanized user interface, the “Empathetic Navigator” Emma, to help transform the insurer from payer to partner. In doing so, Emma became AXA’s signature experience to offer a more human approach to being a partner and connecting with its customers. 

Key Considerations When Applying GenAI Solutions 

Despite its exciting potential, using GenAI to activate marketing strategies requires careful consideration of several factors.  

1. Data security and authenticity should be prioritized.

As AI tools and practices are currently an emerging area with limited oversight, it’s crucial for businesses to validate that the information provided is accurate and non-proprietary. Keeping confidential and proprietary data out of AI training process is also essential.  

At Prophet, we developed AI guidelines that serve as a valuable compass for our work. We use the guidelines to omit confidential information and proprietary data from external AI processes, rigorously verify outputs and continuously promote knowledge sharing for collective improvement. As AI technologies evolve and fresh ethical challenges arise, organizations must remain poised to adapt and revise their strategies to ensure alignment with the latest security standards and considerations. 

2. Understanding regional nuances is crucial when deploying GenAI for verbal branding across different markets and languages.

Different AI tools may have varying strengths and weaknesses based on the cultural context they were trained. For example, in China, Baidu WenxinYiyan, Tencent’s Hunyuan and iFlyTek’s SparkDesk have arisen as admirable contenders. Additionally, policies and regulations as they start to emerge may differ across regions. Just recently, China became the first country to launch official regulations around GenAI, while the EU is also in the process of evaluating its AI Act. Therefore, businesses should consider using AI models trained specifically for each target market to ensure better relevance and compliance. 

3. Going a step further.

Customization is key to leveraging AI effectively for branding objectives. Tailoring the AI solutions to the business’s unique needs, persona, tone of voice and style can create a more authentic and relatable verbal branding experience for the audience. Continuously verifying and adapting the outputs generated by AI is essential to maintain consistency with the brand’s identity and messaging. Businesses should learn from the AI-generated content and customer feedback to improve the system over time, making it more accurate and reflective of the brand’s values and objectives. 

Harmonizing GenAI and Human Expertise: The Path Forward in Verbal Branding 

Undoubtedly, the integration of GenAI in content marketing and brand communications workflows has brought about a transformative shift in content creation. The efficiency and scale at which AI operates are truly remarkable, allowing businesses to achieve more than ever before. However, it is crucial to recognize that the real magic happens when AI collaborates with human expertise, creating a symbiotic relationship that propels branding efforts to new heights. 


As AI continues to evolve and become an integral part of our business strategies, our guidance and approach must adapt accordingly. Understanding that AI serves as a valuable tool, rather than a replacement, will be crucial to our success in an ever-competitive landscape. By harnessing the evolving power of AI while embracing the significance of human oversight in verbal branding, we can truly stand out and thrive in this dynamic and rapidly changing world. 

Learn more about our verbal branding capabilities. 


Positioning AI Brands With Better Brand Storytelling and a Sharp Value Proposition

For companies developing AI products and services, time is running out. Now is the time to clarify value and build trust.

It’s hard to keep up with the number of companies charging into artificial intelligence. But for those – particularly in the technology industry – that want to build market share in AI, finding ways to get ahead of the crowd is imperative. And time is of the essence. We are in a pivotal moment, and those who get it right will come out as the clear winners not only today but in the foreseeable future.  

It’s not only about developing top products or services. To position themselves as category leaders, companies building AI capabilities need to think about telling a holistic story that evolves with the technology and customers’ uneven rate of AI adoption. Stakeholder perceptions are still being decided. Companies need to win talent wars, educate investors and soothe a society that is distrustful of AI. 

The moment for throwing ideas into the market and seeing what sticks is over. Those who will lead in AI will be those who get their story right, and define these four key elements: 

1. Product + Innovation

AI is driving the most significant technological platform shift in our lifetime. But with so many companies touting their advancements, there is a risk that new products get lost without the depth or differentiation needed to stand out in a fast-moving, crowded ecosystem. ​ 

Companies building AI products need to start with a better understanding of the user journey and experience. While the initial goals may have been building a superior product, customer centricity needs to move to center stage. That requires asking hard questions about the design and intentional experience for users. How will products solve customers’ biggest problems? How fast can they do it? How accurately? Interoperability is essential, too. Where does it fit in the ecosystem? Does it leave room for partnerships? All these things – not just the product itself – determine its value. Are all these facets articulated in a clear value proposition? Can that value be conveyed in messages that are neither too complex nor oversimplified? 

“Short-term, brands will continue to tout the presence of AI broadly as a product differentiator,” says Danny Pomerantz, a senior manager at Prophet. “However, consumer understanding of the utility of AI will increase nearly as fast as the technology itself, so brands will soon need to include more in-depth explanation of the role AI plays in meeting customer needs.”​  

2. Organization + Culture

In the fierce war for AI talent, hiring and keeping the best people requires a distinctive Employee Value Proposition. This EVP must distill the company’s purpose, creating the North Star that unifies the whole company. Given the potential impact AI has on society, employees are taking caution and being intentional in evaluating an employer’s value system – this is especially true for Gen Z workers who place higher importance on a company’s values and purpose than older generations.  

“To attract and retain talent that can build AI solutions, companies need to consider their WHY through the lens of all their stakeholders vs. a traditional overweighting and myopic focus on shareholder value. Other stakeholders include employees, the communities the enterprises operate in and serve, the customer of course, and society the planet,” says Tina Naser, senior partner and global practice lead in organization and culture. 

The most in-demand AI workers will want to work for companies committed to performance excellence and innovation. That means companies must know how current workforce ecosystems must change. How will creative and content generation evolve? What skills are most urgently needed?  

And they want to join companies that are committed to giving them room to grow, which may call for a refreshed organizational design. Employees, almost as much as customers, will become the catalyst for market positioning.  

“The companies that best integrate AI with the human workforce will be the companies that attract and retain the best talent,” says Michael Lopez, partner in Prophet’s organization and culture practice. “That’s how they will unlock new levels of growth and performance.”​  

3. Expression + Identity

Too often, tech companies don’t think about branding until after a product is built. But the brand itself must be designed into the way AI products express themselves – how they look, sound and engage with users. 

AI needs to be honest, quickly telling people that while these tools are helpful, they’re not human.  

“The baseline expectation for AI-powered copy is transparency, disclosing that it’s AI immediately and not a person,” explains Darcy Munoz, Prophet’s verbal branding lead. And since they are often used in straightforward jobs-to-be-done roles, they should prioritize helpfulness over branding. “But personality, deployed thoughtfully and judiciously –an unexpectedly human phrase, the perfect emoji, a well-timed robot joke –goes a long way to build brand love.”​  

4. Responsibility + Guardrails

The mistrust of AI is widespread. That means that even as companies race to build growth-driving technology and value for stakeholders and customers, they must position themselves – and all their AI offers – as responsible, carefully weighing the impact on society. The potential threats are grave, including the “risk of extinction.” That’s why 350 AI executives, researchers, and engineers signed a statement released by the Center for AI Safety. 

To manage potential concerns companies must be clear on their mission and upfront in promises to ethically contribute to managing AI. They must work with governments, competitors and concerned consumer groups, ensuring safeguards are constantly evolving for greater effectiveness.  

This visible commitment is especially important for reaching younger people, both as employees and customers. They are fierce in their commitment to working for inclusive companies that stand for making the world a better place.  

“Gen Z will be paying careful attention to which companies are at the forefront of responsible AI and which companies are lagging,”​ says Michael Lau, a strategy associate at Prophet and demographic expert.  

Amid the intense scrutiny of the business media, Wall Street, Washington D.C. and the general public, companies must honestly acknowledge their reputation. Samsung, Amazon and Apple are among the most trusted tech companies. TikTok and Meta score lowest. 

Tell a Sharper Story 

Companies that carefully consider all four elements have the raw materials to tell a powerful story and establish a unique identity. The next step is prioritizing who they want to hear that story and crafting narratives designed explicitly for core audiences. For some tech companies, AI is the headline. For others, it might be a chapter. But all must draw from a unified positioning strategy. That’s the foundation that aligns vision, solidifies ambition and articulates the pillars for messaging.  

Consider these four stakeholders: 

Customers: Educate customers to earn trust.

Many recognize AI’s benefits of conveniences, yet a recent study showed that 76% of consumers are concerned over the risk of misinformation. Prophet’s recent test of AI messaging with B2B customers found that without more explanation, mentioning AI didn’t help. It came across as vague and expected but without much distinction or value. That underscores the importance of communicating the customer value proposition using clear and compelling differentiation.  

Employees: Use corporate purpose to recruit, engage and retain employees.

While coming off a year of layoffs, the tech industry is still desperate for AI-skilled engineers and talent. Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Nvidia, Tesla, Google, and many fast-moving start-ups have announced stepped-up investments in AI. As a result, they are refreshing their enterprise value proposition, each aiming to develop a unifying rally cry that sets them apart.  

Shareholders: Deepen messages for shareholders.

While many companies have been using AI for decades, the launch of ChatGPT last year was seismic. The AI fervor drew intense investor interest, often with little understanding. Executives tossed out vague AI mentions on earnings calls, often with little explanation. But it’s important to manage expectations amid the hype as savvy market investors search for strategy, differentiation and growth drivers. AI companies must help potential investors find those differences with clear messages that cut through the noise.  

Society: Commit to the responsible use of AI.

Historical context matters here. In the early days of social media, many believed technology tended toward the beneficial. Now that society has seen its ugly side there’s a high level of distrust and even contempt. And it’s important to note that even the most sophisticated AI thinkers still have no idea where AI will take us. AI is not a business-as-usual business. It will require exceptional efforts to earn and manage the public’s trust. 


Technology, media, entertainment, and telecommunications companies that offer AI products and services need to tell a compelling story. Product innovation alone is not enough to capture the market. Companies must articulate their identity, add value and provide guardrails to build and retain customers. Finding the right balance between simplicity and complexity will be critical as will moving fast and not missing the moment. Contact our team today to position your AI brand for success. 


Standing out in a Sea of Sameness: Five Ways Asset Managers Can Build a Winning Brand Strategy

Prolonged and emerging pressures are creating new challenges across the industry.

How do you gain market share and attract the best talent in a market that looks like a sea of sameness? Where clients, partners, and talent see you and your competitors as interchangeable? Asset managers have long operated with this mindset when it comes to brand positioning.   Compounding this challenge in recent years is the need to navigate challenges that include fee compression, market volatility, shifting regulatory environments and talent friction.  

Consequently, asset managers have rapidly expanded their areas of focus: taking on a new tension around focused expertise vs. expanding the set of offers to serve investors (e.g., new industries, specialties, alternative investments, ESG investing, real estate, digital assets, etc.). Many have used expanded offers to deepen their relationships with clients and successfully compete but at the price of sometimes murky associations around specialization. Such go-to-market strategies have made it confusing for new investors to confidently invest and, at times, for asset managers to confidently sell a broader set of investments and capabilities.  

Facing New Opposition  

Rising interest rates, inflation, inverted yield curves, disruptive technologies (AI, digital assets), and rising global tension have shrunken available Assets Under Management (AUM), which has only increased investor trepidation as they conserve cash at a time when access to capital is more costly.  

Automation and AI are also shifting the paradigm for acquiring AUM, and there could be a semi-industry rotation. The sales and client engagement processes are also evolving as a consequence of technology. It’s less about being “close” to investors for AUM and more about being “ubiquitous” and/or “famous” for something.  

The theme of 2021 was a world of too much money chasing too few assets. The theme of 2023 is too little AUM for too many asset managers and their expansive sets of offers. 

Consolidation is the next imminent frontier we are seeing. Franklin Templeton’s $1bn+ purchase of rival Putnam Investments and Lansdowne Partners’ plan to acquire UK equity investment manager Crux Asset Management are only the beginning.  

The Asset Management Brand-Demand Challenge  

While consolidation will make newly combined entities more competitive and allow them to capture efficiencies, it will not solve the two underlying challenges present in the asset management space:  

  1. A need to establish or regain slipping relevance: Every asset management brand covered in Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index (BRI) saw a decline in relevance from 2021 to 2022, and all but one declined in relevance versus other brands from 2022 to 2023. Relevance, which directly relates to the bottom line, is noteworthy to all stakeholders. It creates importance to investors but also attracts and retains premier talent in a tighter AUM environment and bigger asset management ecosystem—building both brand and demand for the business.
  2. A need to create coherence: As entities combine and grow, it is critical to ensure that not just the company but also its offers and capabilities are well-articulated, organized and understood—making it easier for investors to buy and asset managers to sell.  

5 Actions for Building a Winning Asset Management Strategy  

1. Acknowledge and understand your unique audience motivations.

Asset managers need to manage a range of stakeholders and monitor the emerging patterns in behaviors. For example:   

  • Investors: Institutional and individuals are typically seeking risk-adjusted returns that outpace the other options available in the capital structure.   
  • Portfolio Companies: Seeking sustainable growth through capital and expertise, but also looking for purpose and values alignment.  
  • Capital Allocators: Seeking value creation, preservation of capital, and risk management for both the firm and its clients.  They also need the best talent to convey expertise, broaden access to capital, and drive outsized performance. 
  • Talent: Looking to build unique career knowledge, gain experience, and get rewarded by working with the smartest people at asset management firms with the strongest cultures.  

2. Establish a clear brand purpose.

Asset management brands tend to place too great of an emphasis on what they do (alternatives, quant, fixed income) vs. answering bigger questions on how they do it (resources, ecosystem, talent) or, even further, why they align their purpose, promise, and principles to a particular vision. Brands that can’t get past what are likely to simply float along in a sea of sameness. Many asset management positionings have migrated to being ‘safe’ through a few primary lenses: looking towards tomorrow, spotlighting integrity and/or trust, and a focus on driving long-term value.  

We believe many of the declines in brand relevance for asset managers can be attributed, in part, to a decline in various key client sentiment heart factors as outlined by Prophet’s BRI. Heart factors encapsulate the emotional connections that the audiences will forge with brands, e.g., ‘connects with me emotionally’, ‘makes me feel inspired’ and ‘engages with me in new and creative ways’. The erosion of these heart factors vs. more rational head factors which have remained stable, e.g., ‘know I can depend on’, ‘delivers on a consistent experience’, and ‘makes my life easier’ reinforces the idea that asset managers have reached a perceived parity across products, services, and the overall brand.  Such underscores the likely importance of conveying a clear ‘how’ paired with a well-defined ‘why’ in the brand purpose with clients.    

A clear how may include things like:  

  1. Your investment philosophy and approach 
  2. Your organization’s talent, values, and principles  
  3. Signature stories of lasting impact on employees, investors, companies, communities, and ecosystems 

A well-thought-out purpose is:  

  1. Authentic – ties back to what you do 
  2. Inspiring – connects with employees and customers emotionally 
  3. Shared – creates connection and builds community 
  4. Actionable – lived every day 

In Vice Chairman at Prophet David Aaker’s recent book The Future of Purpose-Driven Branding, he outlines the use of inspiring, and mission-driven signature social programs that deploy resources to address the most pressing societal challenges.  One shining example of this is State Street Global Advisors who commissioned the bronze sculpture Fearless Girl overlooking the New York Stock Exchange in anticipation of National Women’s Day.  This serves as a symbol of a part of the organization’s purpose to position on the gender equality gap and reinforces its position on taking an aggressive stance on its expectation that all portfolio companies hold at least one woman on its board.  The organization mentions it is prepared to cast proxy votes against board leaders when companies do not meet their diversity expectations.  

3. Power brand from within using a visible human-centered approach.

It’s hard enough to articulate a clear purpose in the crowded asset management space but even harder to ensure that brand purpose connects meaningfully to people and clients. The brands’ purpose needs to align with prospective talent and customers. Shaping a visible culture plays a critical role in attracting and retaining the best people which in turn garners the attention of clients. Bridgewater Associates famously pioneered a workplace culture relying on truthful and transparent communication dubbed “radical truth and radical transparency” as part of Ray Dalio’s principle-based approach. A human-centered approach involves bridging your brand purpose into a visible culture supported by a strong employee value proposition that:  

  • Articulates what makes your company a strong place to work  
  • Improves winning in the broad talent marketplace 
  • Develops an enhanced foundation to support future and evolving talent needs  

Doing these three things requires building from the organization’s purpose but also driving careful consideration around the Employee Value Proposition and employee experience.  In some recent Prophet qualitative research in the asset management space, we found building a winning EVP requires deliberate care to the employee experience levers talent is looking for beyond compensation, such as:  

  • Autonomy – giving employees the freedom to make decisions that matter to them 
  • Mentorship – surrounding talent with leaders that inspire them 
  • Clarity – on how the organization will value their performance and the capital available to them  
  • Resources – being equipped with the right support to guide decisions and accomplish goals 
  • Innovation – seeing their work and the work of the company evolving toward the future 

4. Revisit architecture, nomenclature, and value propositions.

Increasingly adding incremental investment products and services will raise organizational capabilities with impending M&A in the asset management space compounding that effect. But these new products, services, and areas of focus often get added to the existing array of capabilities that slowly stifle brand and portfolio coherence. Asset managers need to revisit the growing complexity of their investment focuses and develop an architecture and naming strategy that still complies with regulatory requirements but removes friction for both buying and selling offers designed to increase their AUM. Coupling this with strong value propositions that don’t just indicate what investments to provide but also how to pursue those investments in a way that serves to improve investor consideration and demand in addition to improving the ability for advisors to promote their services. The necessity for these services becomes evident when we consider a key finding from BRI, which reveals asset management brands fall short of advantageous relevance drivers that connect to aspects of having a strong brand architecture, use of nomenclature, and/or value propositions resonate with people in meaningful ways:  

  • Emotional resonance (connects with me) 
  • Value alignment (has a set of beliefs and values that align with my own) 
  • Essentiality (I can’t imagine living without).   

5. Experiment to win with experience both internally and externally.

In an industry where both brand and culture follow predictable patterns and a substantial amount of investment follows critical business-as-usual actions around quality reporting, transparency, educational resources, technology, etc., it can be easy for marketing, business development/advisor activities, experience investments, and cultural investments to follow these patterns. Applying a portfolio construction theory to marketing, hiring, and culture investments to experiment with actions that set a brand’s purpose and culture apart can yield huge returns. Asset management company, Vanguard, is famous for owning the retirement space not just for investors but also employees whom they affectionately name their “crew”. The Vanguard Retirement Savings plan for this group offers 4% in matched contributions and an unheard-of 10% company contribution without limit.  

Acknowledgment: The authors would like to thank Prophet Partner Adam Tremblay for his input in creating this article. 


As the asset management industry continues to encounter pressure and consolidation, the asset managers able to revisit the actions that surround their brand(s) to regain relevance and establish coherence will have outsized chances of being considered. Our Prophet team has supported some of the most respected global brands in asset management to better position for growth. If you are looking to grow your brand, connect with our global team of experts today.


Powering Sustainable Growth with Your Brand Engine

The most relevant brands require ongoing maintenance. Prophet’s Brand Engine Model outlines the five levers needed to drive growth.

During a recent assignment for a global automaker, a non-marketer on the client team pulled me aside. A little embarrassed, he asked, “What even is a brand and why does it matter?” Our side conversation spiraled. Is an NFT a brand? A religion? How about IP? Heck, can a person really be a brand? It took me a minute, but I finally got his deeper question: How does brand building lead to growth? 

It’s a question we all – consultants and clients alike – should consider more often. We know brands are valuable, if intangible, assets. While the value of a brand fluctuates by industry, there is no question that it has value. Brand value is calculated in the accounting of every merger and acquisition. While estimating these values is an industry unto itself, we know value derives from many elements – from the organization’s highest leaders to consumers’ interactions and experiences. Brands are valuable because they are a short-cut, a promise– representing a set of functional and emotional expectations. The value of the brand reflects complex understandings, strategies, symbols, and beliefs. 

Most companies understand brand value needs to be nurtured and protected. They are aware of what’s at risk. For most successful organizations, however, a brand is not just an asset. It’s also an engine of growth, powering the next horizon of success.  

For the past eight years, Prophet has surveyed thousands of consumers in our annual brand relevance study to understand which brands are most relevant to their lives. Our research has shown that the most relevant brands, have found ways to build customer loyalty, and ultimately drive more growth. The top-performing brands in our study, have outperformed the S&P 500 by 201% in the last five years.   

To quantify how brands build relevance, we used this research and our years of experience building brands to develop a Brand Engine Model which is powered by five critical components. It’s clear that brand is a critical driver of growth, and all organizations should be constantly building, nurturing and refining their brands or risk losing relevance with their customers. While marketing is often responsible for owning brand, it should not be overlooked across the C-suite as a crucial component towards supporting the business reach its revenue goals.  

Prophet’s Brand Engine Model 

Prophet’s Brand Engine Model
(See full-sized version in your browser)

Building a Powerful Brand Engine 

Ambition: Who are we?  

All engines start with a spark. For brands, that spark is ambition, defining the organizational purpose and role of the brand in value creation. Patagonia’s inimitable “Earth is our only shareholder” commitment sets a high bar. However, businesses as diverse as Nike, USAA and LEGO answer that question in ways that make people’s hearts soar. Every brand must have a well-defined purpose that sets it apart and gives all its stakeholders – customers, employees and shareholders – something to believe. 

Ambition supplies the instructions required to set the engine in motion. Without it, wheels spin, and brands lurch along, but with no velocity.  

Remember my client’s question about whether a person can be a brand? If that were true, that person would clarify ambition by asking, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  

To set the agenda for ambition, companies need to ask:  

  1. What is our core belief that guides and inspires our actions? 
  2. What needs are we serving in people’s lives? 
  3. What business are we in and how might the brand allow the business to execute on our corporate strategy? 

Ecosystem: Where do we exist?   

The Ecosystem does more than define a frame of reference. It requires a deep understanding of how the brand fits into people’s lives. For both B2B and B2C brands, the ecosystem helps define the competitive landscape. Having a well-articulated ecosystem not only creates a sandbox for brands to own and operate, it also provides an opportunity for strategic and innovative partnerships. Whether it’s Peloton moving into Hilton properties, Calm app paying mental-health fines for tennis players, Gucci partnering with Oura rings or a Spotify playlist following passengers into an Uber, the opportunity for productive partnerships often leads to new revenue streams. 

Ecosystems also function as powerful collaborative areas for companies to build on their employer brand, engaging employees in ways that keep them curious. Google, for example, has famously encouraged its people to devote 20% of their work time to projects in their personal areas of interest. That way, the brand constantly re-invites employees into its incubator-esque way of thinking. 

To set the context for ecosystem, companies need to ask:  

  1. What is the context in which a consumer experiences a brand (e.g., depending on pre-existing biases, situational relevance, or physical environment)?  
  2. How does the brand(s) fit into consumers’ lives, relative to the other brands that they regularly interact with?  
  3. How should we organize our own architecture and relationships to optimize navigation, understanding, and brand equity building?  
  4. What brands do we want to be associated with (e.g., deliberate partnerships or inadvertent association)? 

Expression: How do we show up?  

To many, this component is classic branding. It tells a powerful story through an authentic, cohesive look, sound and feel. It is a way to create excitement across touchpoints. And it includes all the more common things associated with branding, from logo to commercial to content. Of all the engine components, it is often the most closely bound to strategy. While Apple and BMW do many things right, they are routinely flawless in this dimension. 

While this component feels classic, its importance should not be overlooked. When heritage brands refresh their visual identities it’s big news. Consumers and employees find comfort and build attachments to brands they feel deep loyalty to. From UGG to JetBlue, we’ve seen brands maneuver expression both expertly and not so expertly.   

To align a path forward for expression, companies need to ask:  

  1. How do we use our visual identity, voice, messaging strategy, and other signature stories to tap into the underlying human truths/emotions from our Ambition? 
  2. How might we use our visual identity, voice & messaging, and other stories to drive awareness, interest, and engagement? 
  3. How can, and should, we feel and sound distinct in-market to stand out from competitive brands and drive an ownable position? 

Experience: How do we engage?  

At every touchpoint, even if it’s beyond a company’s control, people form a perception of the brand. Experiences can deliver unique moments, using those perceptions to deepen relationships. 

Companies have come a long way in acknowledging the importance of experience but continue to under-invest in it. That neglect shows. One major study shows customer experience is plummeting, falling 20% last year. And one in five companies says they plan to eliminate CX.  

The best brands constantly think of both the owned and the un-owned touchpoints, curing problems and allowing the brand to flourish. UGG, for example, leans hard on diverse influencers with activations at music and film festivals. Lululemon creates thousands of store-as-community-hub events, partners with meditation organizations and hosts women-friendly road races. Jeep owners love the tradition of the `Jeep Wave,’ enthusiastically calculating their place in the ranking hierarchy before flashing the sign. 

To set the stage for experience, companies need to ask:  

  1. How should the experiences that we design make our customers or users feel (e.g., de-cluttered, inspired, appreciated), in a way that ties back to our core human truths defined in Ambition? 
  2. How can we make the lives of our customers/users easier? 
  3. How might our set of experiences serve as a revenue platform through efficient, digital-first channels?  
  4. How might these service channels drive long-term loyalty and stickiness? 

Intelligence and Measurement: Are we moving in the right direction?  

More than ever, marketers are being asked to prove their value and show business results. Applying intelligence and measurement allows for demonstrating success but it also enables quick optimizations to deliver better outcomes. It keeps the finger on the pulse of audiences. Virtually all marketers know this, yet many don’t yet have the tools and capabilities in place to harness their data to maximize output.  

Companies that spend the most on measurement and insights are among the world’s fastest-growing. Dove, for example, owned by Unilever, never stops mining its years of social-media success for insights about core users. Its latest hit is the #TurnYourBack campaign, encouraging people to shun TikTok’s unrealistic beauty standards, earning close to 800 million impressions. 

And McDonald’s extensive investments in ongoing customer research shape every menu tweak and new promotion, following people’s fast-changing perspectives on everything from which beef is healthiest, plant-based alternatives and Grimace’s return to glory. 

To set the limits for intelligence and measurement, companies need to ask:  

  1. What equities does our brand have with audiences, and how have these shifted?  
  2. How well are we serving their emotional and functional needs? 
  3. How are different parts of our business performing and how might our brand better serve our engagement and customers? 

Ultimately, the quality of execution across all five components drives brand value, transformation and growth. But no two engines are the same. Some brands might invest more resources in expression, others in experience. Pepsi isn’t the same as Pinterest. But a carefully calibrated brand engine can change gears as context shifts and unforeseen events happen. And with equilibrium, brands grow into de-risked, agile engines of growth.  


Every brand is an engine. When companies are willing to turn them on, fine-tuning and optimizing as they go, they move into the fast lane. They gain traction, passing competitors. They become an explosive source of uncommon growth and transformation. 

To learn more about creating relevant brands that drive growth, contact our team today. 


Building Human-Centered Brand Relevance Is Key to the Success of B2B Companies: A Case Study of G7 Connect 

How can B2B brands create relevance by appealing to both the “head” and the “heart” of consumers? 

Since 2016, Prophet has released our annual report brand relevance report, The 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report to understand how brands become indispensable and stand the test of time by being relentlessly relevant. This year, we surveyed 11,500 consumers and found that brand relevance has become more important than ever. For the first time since the pandemic, consumers are prioritizing “heart-hitting” attributes in brands and are more willing to engage with brands that offer meaningful connections. This is a notable shift from prioritizing attributes that appeal more to their “head”, such as functional factors and cost-effectiveness. Both categories remain important and the most relevant brands find ways to win with both.   

When helping clients strengthen their brand relevance, we often hear the question, “What role do ‘head’ and ‘heart’ attributes play in building brands across different industries? Are ‘heart’ attributes less important for B2B companies as they are not directly engaged with end consumers?” This is a common pitfall. Indeed when catering to different customers, companies should take tailored approaches to building brand relevance. However, both “head” and “heart” attributes should hold equal significance for all companies, regardless of whether they are B2B or B2C.  

In this article, we highlight a recent client story of how we helped to build a B2B brand to create relevance by appealing to both the “head” and the “heart.” 

G7 Connect: The Hidden Hero in Road Freight 

Today’s consumers are accustomed to the convenience of online shopping and modern logistics, thanks to the advancement of digital technologies. However, express delivery is just a small part of the logistics industry, of which every aspect has yet to be transformed digitally. “Sweat logistics” is a term often used to describe freight, the most conventional business model in the industry that still dominates the bottom of the logistics food chain. It is a sector burdened by overloaded trucks, sleep-deprived drivers and inefficient management and processes. Many freight operators lack a clear understanding of how digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and SaaS can benefit the logistics business. 

G7 Connect is a leader in IoT SaaS technologies for road freight in China. For 28 years, it has been committed to advancing China’s entire logistics industry through technological innovations based on IoT, big data and AI. As a B2B company, G7 Connect caters to a wide group of audiences with extremely different backgrounds and needs, from regular truckers to small-to-medium-sized freight operators and senior executives of key consignors. For truckers, their needs are quite simple – they hope to drive safely every day and be paid fairly for their work. For shipping companies and freight operators, they need to consider the safety of their people, vehicles and goods; they care about reducing costs and improving efficiency across each aspect and look forward to unleashing higher productivity through new technologies. For business leaders at consignors, they wish to strengthen their control over the logistics process like warehousing and freight. 

Rooted in “Head” and Inspired by “Heart” – Building Brand Relevance That Speaks to Diverse Audiences  

Our biggest challenge when developing the brand strategy for G7 Connect was balancing the expectations of its different audiences – it was crucial to highlight the value that IoT SaaS technologies can bring in a simplistic and intuitive way. In this regard, appealing to the “heart” is just as critical as the “head”. As G7 Connect’s customers come from different professions and backgrounds, they also have distinctively unique functional needs (“head” attributes). However, each customer is a human first and foremost – a living participant in the logistics industry. Therefore, it is easier for us to identify their shared emotional needs (“heart” attributes). 

Through a human-centered approach, the Prophet team conducted extensive interviews with G7 Connect’s different customer groups and its customer-facing employees to better understand their needs and expectations. Based on our findings, we developed a refreshed brand purpose to appeal to its customers’ hearts. We created an impactful brand tagline, “Beautiful change happens now” to encapsulate G7 Connect’s commitment to continuously creating positive changes for all industry participants through digital technology. Moreover, we further clarified the core competitive strengths of G7 Connect’s offerings and capabilities as brand principles, reinforcing its differentiated advantages through “head” attributes. 

G7 Connect officially launched its new brand strategy and identity in the spring of 2023. Since then, a range of brand implementation initiatives have been quickly put in place. For example, the company’s annual “advanced freight operator conference” was given a universally resonating theme, “Connecting the Beautiful”. The conference also focused on deepening the understanding of G7 Connect’s core functional strengths by highlighting many of its leading products, from visible processes, refined cost management and secure algorithms to external partnerships. Moreover, by showcasing warm, authentic client stories rich with photography and testimonials throughout its communications, G7 Connect has demonstrated how it is delivering “beautiful changes” to every industry participant through comprehensive digital logistics products and services. 


For B2B brands, the power of appealing to the “heart” should not be underestimated. By creating an authentic brand purpose anchored on shared emotional needs, companies can strike chords and create connections with vast audiences in a more intuitive way. When the brand resonates with its customers, they will be more interested in learning what the brand offers and why it is better, thus eventually deepening their trust in the brand’s functional benefits (“head” attributes) as well. 


Why Do Only Some Social Media Brands Inspire?

Relentlessly relevant brands find ways to drive connection – see how social media brands are succeeding and struggling.

Each year Prophet surveys thousands of U.S. consumers about brands that are most relevant in their lives. The 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report shows the brand relevance of more than 250 brands using data from those familiar with them. Analyzing the results from different perspectives yields provocative findings. This year we decided to take a close look at seven of the major social media brands on the “makes me feel inspired” survey question. Many people are impacted by social media brands in some way on a daily basis. We also decided to dissect this angle in part because the pinnacle of a brand connection is to be inspiring. We found an interesting dichotomy. The brands either fell into a clear high or low inspiring grouping. 

Social Media Brands That Inspire 

The high group included YouTube and TikTok, which were in the top 8%, and Pinterest was in the top 1% in the sample of 257 brands. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp, in sharp contrast, were in the lowest 20%.   

Each brand has its own story, which is interesting and insightful. It is hard to generalize, but it seems true that the high group has coolness, momentum and a superior ability to gain engagement in competition with those in the low group. Let’s take a closer look. 

The inspiration level at Pinterest is amazing and worth exploring. Why? First, it is user personalized—content relevant to a person, for example, can be pinned to their own board. There are also niche communities so that ideas can be shared around common topics. Second, the experience is visual, easy to use and inspiring. The user gets to discover high-quality images and use a search tool to find others. Third, the experience is enriched by having e-commerce opportunities embedded. 

The characteristics of the other two high group members are of interest as well. TikTok has short-video content that satisfies people’s attention span and is entertaining, discoverable and sharable with the possibility that any one spot could go viral. It has a user-friendly interface with creative tools and effects to enhance and customize videos that attract top talent. YouTube is convenient, assessable, and has vast user-generated content all of which attracts content creators and audience members. It offers high-quality educational, novel, entertaining and provocative content which means every person will find something that appeals to them. The AI algorithm is advanced; you are served up content that you will like. 

Social Media Brands Lacking Inspiration 

The lower four brands are not judged in isolation. They can slip by simply being “not as good as” the big three. But individually they each have issues that are not easy to deal with. 

Facebook has been battling negative public perception with respect to privacy and misinformation, fake news, and generally harmful or inappropriate content. This has spread into the political realm and has been amplified by polarizing attitudes. For the younger audience, the appeal of alternatives is a factor. 

Twitter has a character limit that can be limiting next to alternatives and suggests a lack of content. It is associated with cyberbullying, trolling and frenetic overuse among the young. Twitter has also received critical media coverage for its acquisition by Elon Musk and his controversial views and his decision to sharply downsize the staff. 

Snapchat has an interface that is harder to use than competitors. It is aimed at younger users where TikTok has made inroads. While disappearing content has plusses, it can be inconvenient especially if it is the preferred social media vehicle for a person. Their story is interesting because Snapchat was a breakthrough brand at the time of launch (almost like a fad), but other social media brands have replicated their unique features making them easily replaceable and relevant among the core user base who now tend to prefer TikTok. 

Because WhatsApp was acquired by Meta, concerns about privacy, data sharing and the potential appearance of targeted advertising have become visible. It is dependent on an internet connection and requires a valid phone number, which some are uncomfortable giving up. Because of their end-to-end encryption, it can be hard to control false information. Finally, it can consume significant storage space on devices. However, even with these limitations, WhatsApp continues to be the most popular messaging app with more than 2 billion global users and may offer Meta an opportunity to reverse some of their negative in-market perceptions.  


Having a brand that inspires usually means that an exceptionally strong brand relationship has been established. Inspiration is associated with having momentum in the marketplace, an engaging offering that is unique, self-expressive benefits and an absence of negatives. Want to learn more about the most relevant brands in the U.S. Download the Relentlessly Relevant Brands report today. 

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