Theatre producer David Belasco said — you've heard this, but pretend you haven't — if you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you've got no idea. Consumers respond to crystal clear brands. Their eyelids begin sliding down like window shutters when things get murky.
Lucky for marketers looking for a clue, global branding firm Siegel+Gale has issued its fifth annual Global Brand Simplicity Index, which speaks volumes about both brands and categories. On the latter, digital brands with no laurels to rest on and a market defined by niches, come out ahead. On the bottom: legacy brands that haven't figured out how to be new, brands that have consumers by the nose, and/or whose business model pretty much demands that they are the opposite of simple, come out dead last. Think insurance and telecoms.
All told, the study looks at 12,000 respondents across eight countries, ranks 585 brands by their perceived simplicity. Worldwide, grocer Aldi is number one, with Zappos leading in the United States. Amazon drops to number two in the U.S.
New to the list are emerging brands that show just how effective digital brands are at creating a unique space and making that mission clear to consumers. Examples are Airbnb, GrubHub, and Uber. Siegel+Gale ranked these brands separately and then compared them to 585 established brands.
The disruptor group took eight of the top U.S. 10 spots. If you include those startups in the overall list, Aereo, Warby Parker, and FreshDirect shoehorn between Zappos and Amazon. Blue Apron, Square, and Venmo are between Amazon and "official" third place legacy brand Subway. Seamless is between Subway and Pizza Hut, and PeaPod is between tenth place Dunkin' Donuts and Honda. Zappos, says the study, benefits from ease of use and ease of return. The company also boosts effectiveness with shopping tips personalized to the user linked to Instagram selfies, says the study.
Worldwide, Google, Lidl, McDonald's, Netflix, Ideal, C&A, Subway, Miele and Amazon are on top. Google rises one spot from last year; Ikea is up three spots; Subway is up seven spots because of simple menus, easy pricing, and products catering to individual tastes. Subway's health-conscious positioning has resonated as well, per the firm. The bottom ten global brands are HSBC, Budget, Hertz, LinkedIn, E.On, Avis, Citibank; Bupa; Ryanair and AXA.
In the U.S., it is insurance companies, cable carriers, and wireless providers sucking the muck on the bottom of the rankings. MetLife, AT&T, Verizon, Dish Network, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana, Comcast, Time Warner, and Cigna are on the bottom.