When we looked at the highest performers, we observed five ways they are continually reinventing themselves.

Inner Peace

Brands that helped tame the chaos and confusion of the last year soared in relevance. People wanted to find comfort in their lives–even if they could only do that in tiny slices. As self-care took on new meanings, companies that helped consumers organize closets, up their sourdough game or find the perfect family couch meant more than ever. Now that consumers have newly-defined ways to find moments of relief and joy, it’s likely this trend will continue.

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Community Comes Home

Smart brands have long built communities, but the pandemic is fueling a fierce desire for connection. It is a turning point: Brands are no longer just something people connect with or about. They are something to connect through. The highest-performers pushed their “brand as a platform” strategies into overdrive, often turning physical experiences into virtual. Through these brands, people found each other.

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Free to Play

Brands that poured on happiness stood out like rays of sunshine. From TikTok dance-offs to Hulu binges to good-natured fun and easy escapism became as essential to consumers as hand sanitizer. Even though people could mostly only dream about vacations, hospitality and airline brands still rose in relevance.

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From the Source

With so much happening so fast in the past year, people wanted information quickly. At the same time, they’ve become keenly aware of the high price of misinformation. Sources once considered completely reliable suddenly seem less so. When they can do so credibly, brands are stepping in to fill the gaps. They are becoming truth-tellers people can count on.

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Making It Count

As they mull over questions about everything from privilege to the planet, from social justice to public health, people have redefined what they expect from companies. Sick of empty words, they want brands to genuinely live up to their promises. Encouraged by Black Lives Matter, they are demanding evidence of diversity. Suddenly more hip to green-washing, pink-washing and woke-washing, they reward companies trying to do better.

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The highest performing brands achieve relevance through different avenues.

The brands at the top rise in the rankings because their leaders deploy a variety of relevance-building tactics at their disposal—pulling the levers in various combinations.

They have a commitment to being purpose-led, curating experiences that differentiate and rise above the rest and empowering their employees to play a key part in their marketing strategy. They focus on innovation and learn and execute based on data-rich insights. These insights create the ideas that drive growth in both the near and long-term.

Fisher-Price remains relevant because we are constantly innovating our toys to tie to cultural trends, continuously working to be the trusted partner to parents and always remembering that toys serve the purpose of bringing joy and fun to both children and the grown-ups in their lives.”

Chuck Scothon

SVP and Global Head of Infant Preschool