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New research conducted by global creative, consulting, and technology company, Wunderman Thompson, shows tangible correlation between “inspiration and brand growth”. The study seeks to establish why brands need to be inspirational, how inspiration drives growth, and what brands can do to inspire their customers. The study says Amazon, Samsung and Apple top the list of 100 most-inspiring brands in the world. 

The rigorous three-phased study, titled ‘Inspiring Growth’, which was released yesterday, involved academic research, a proprietary BrandZ™ data set studying over 33,000 brands in 183 categories across 45 markets over the past six years and a survey of 4,000 respondents. The purpose was to identify the “qualities a brand must embody, the stories it should tell, and the experiences it can design in order to inspire people”.

The study says Amazon is the leader, motivating and inspiring millions of people across the world to think differently as they discover and experience new products and services.

The study says that while brands may be inspiring, they may not be doing enough. A significant percentage of customers (72%) want brands to be inspirational but only 53% experience “brand inspiration”, revealing a notable ‘inspiration gap’ which offers brands big opportunities for growth. 

The research reveals two ways in which inspiration can drive brand growth: growing market share faster, and charging a premium for products and services. Inspiration predicts 63% of a brand’s ability to drive demand, 52% of brands’ ability to command higher prices, and 48% of brands’ ability to convert customers at the point of purchase. 

Further, growth is not just determined by “whether people think of brands or their value”, but also by “what they think of them” — specifically their value attributes. While awareness is important, the study says inspiration is a “far better predictor of growth”.

Mel Edwards, Global CEO, Wunderman Thompson

Mel Edwards, Global CEO, Wunderman Thompson, observed: “The launch of the study comes at a hugely significant time. Our mission is to inspire growth for ambitious brands, it’s at the heart of our business and this could not be more relevant today. Brands face immense challenges to grow amongst the economic downturn effects of the pandemic. However, amongst a backdrop of uncertainty, our Inspiring Growth study unearths the power of inspiration as a strategy for growth, presenting a significant opportunity for brands that perhaps was once overlooked.” 

Richard Dunn, EMEA Chief Strategy Officer and co-creator of Inspiring Growth, Wunderman Thompson

As part of the study, Wunderman Thompson developed a proprietary diagnostic tool, the Inspire Score, that ranks the top 100 inspiring brands globally, as well as the top brands in more than 45 markets across the world. This ranking will be updated every year, tracking and analysing the brands that are best at inspiring their customers. This year, the study says Amazon is the leader, motivating and inspiring millions of people across the world to “think differently as they discover and experience new products and services”. Amazon was followed closely by Samsung and Apple, respectively, both brands successfully “connecting people to new things and elevating people’s lives to be better”.  

Richard Dunn, EMEA Chief Strategy Officer and co-creator of Inspiring Growth, Wunderman Thompson, said: “The Inspire Score has proven to be an excellent predictor of growth and while small brands have a lot to gain from growing theirs, big brands have a lot to lose from letting theirs fall. In today’s volatile climate, the study proves that brands can ignite change, making people see new possibilities and compelling them to act on new ideas and perspectives, creating experiences that resonate with a person’s values and motivating people to reach their personal goals. As a result, consumers adopt new behaviours that make them feel good about themselves.”


  • A brand’s category has a strong effect on inspiration, with technology brands performing extremely well and financials under-represented.
  • There is a significant difference between categories and regions. Brazilians are most inspired by brands; while people in the United Kingdom, are the least. 
  • Brands have been most successful at being Motivating, helping them “discover new things” and “bring new ideas/suggestions”.
  • Between categories, brands inspire in different ways. Technology brands tend to inspire by broadening horizons. Retail brands score relatively high on helping people discover new things, while personal care brands do well in creating inspirational experiences.
  • Consumers in China and Brazil are more likely to experience a shift in behaviour or attitude as a result of brand inspiration.
  • Mission and brand behaviour are important sources of inspiration.


The in-depth study was based on a rigorous, multidimensional research and analytical methodology across four continents. The study consisted of four initiatives:

INTERVIEWS: WT conducted in-depth interviews with leading academics, including Todd Thrash, a respected authority on inspiration; marketing experts across multiple categories; and online surveys in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Brazil. These interviews enabled WT to define the parameters of inspiration and how to quantify it

QUANTITATIVE: WT conducted a major new survey using SONAR™, Wunderman Thompson’s proprietary market research tool. It reached 4,000 people aged 18+, split evenly by gender and market, across the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Brazil. WT also conducted a mobile survey to better understand both natural and prompted vernacular used on the topic The data collected runs from January to October 2020.

STATISTICAL MODELLING: Based on this research WT identified inspirational brand attributes within the Kantar BrandZ™ data set. BrandZ™ covers 33,000 brands in 183 categories and 45 markets. This data set enabled WT to create an Inspire Score that measures the strength of brand inspiration and its impact on growth. 

In addition, WT carried out a number of studies to round out and confirm results, including secondary research across multiple academic disciplines and social listening analysis using neuro-linguistic programming. WT also investigated conversations around inspiring brands to see how inspirational language functions in a brand context and furthers our understanding of what makes brands inspiring.


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