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What makes a ‘happy’ brand?

As ad agency isobel has revealed a list of the most ‘happy’ brands in the UK, we’ve been having a think about how and why these brands have such positive reputations.

1,250 adults responded saying whether they thought each brand was ‘optimistic’, ‘playful’, ‘happy’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘generous’ – the five traits that apparently make a genuinely happy brand image. The top ten scored highly on all of these aspects, although we’re not sure whether making ‘happy’ a sub-category of itself was necessary.

Cadbury topped the table – a result that many people suspect is due to the huge popularity of chocolate with its delicious mood-boosting endorphins. It’s also certainly helped that Cadbury is such a loved and iconic (read: trusted) heritage brand around the world with a distinctive (read: purple) image.

We’re definitely fans of cocoa, but what’s interesting to us is that the Cadbury ‘voice’ is often assumed to be more traditionally British and formal yet effectively avoids being too old and stuffy. Their most recent ads definitely meet the requirements for ‘playful’, successfully engaging with the younger audience too – drumming gorilla, anyone? Plus, every reference to a ‘glass and a half’ reminds consumers how generous they are with the milk when making their silky chocolate. I think we might be making ourselves hungry…

Second on the list was Andrex. It’s easy to see how a brand with such a fluffy and soft tone of voice to match their toilet paper would rank so highly. The strong focus on emotional appeal was always going to tie in strongly with a ‘happy’ and positive rating.

It’s true that having a puppy front and centre in their advertising brings the ‘aww’ factor, yet the brand also has a ‘kind’ and ‘calm’ image after being rebranded by Elmwood in 2011. The new brand language emphasises quality and value, which must have helped it to achieve those high scores in the ‘trustworthy’ and ‘generous’ categories.

We’ll round out the top three by taking a very quick look at Google’s style. The company never fails to produce an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke, and their regular Google Doodles usually have a sense of humour too. The Google TOV overall is pretty straight-talking and to the point, so that’s definitely a tick in the box for trust and optimism. It also can’t hurt that the brand’s in the business of delivering relevant, quality search results that seem to know what you’re looking for before you do.

Some of the other brands that made the ranking’s higher rungs include Nivea, Amazon, YouTube and Fairy. Many of the happiest household names are heritage brands with plenty of history, showing that making customers smile can go a long way in earning their loyalty. These brands have enduring quality and trust in their genes – if any companies really know how to make their audience happy, it’s these ten.

There was one surprise, at least to us – innocent didn’t appear in the top ten. Given that it’s consistently one of the ‘Big Three’ that other brands aspire to sound like, we didn’t expect the smooth-talking smoothie company to rank so low. Presumably chocolate is more effective at making people happy than fruit.

Which brands feel ‘happy’ to you? Tweet us @strattoncraig with some more ideas.

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