Real Leaders

Leading Brands Caught in a Deep Division of Values

Amazon, Google and Dove rank high in 2017 national report on brands that demonstrate world value and purpose beyond profit.

The 2017 World Value Index report, by mission-driven creative company enso has unveiled people’s perceptions of 150 leading brands and their perceived value to the communities and audiences they serve. 

The report’s findings are based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,000 people, across 19 audience demographics and psychographics. Of the survey questions, trust, personal values, cultural and political influences were considered while polling people’s perceptions of all brands. Key findings in this year’s World Value Index include:

  • Age, gender, income, political leanings and global outlook appeared to highly influence brand mission perception and support: for example, Marlboro ranks last among the general population, but ranks higher among Boomers and Traditionalists.
  • Nonprofits were more resonant with people than the year before: New additions to World Value Index’s top 10 list for 2017 were primarily nonprofits, while Goodwill and Girl Scouts of the USA claimed the top two spots, beating Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
  • Starbucks is the most politically polarizing brand: while it ranks #75 with the general population, Republicans rank them as #103 and Democrats rank them as #18.
  • Twitter, Uber and Starbucks are brands poised to reach and activate millennials who are active on social media and like to take concrete action on issues important to them.
  • Nearly 80 per cent of people believe in businesses’ ability to make a positive impact, but only 41 per cent trust business leaders to do what is right.

“In an era when measuring companies by shareholder value is not good enough — for employees, customers or communities — the World Value Index measures the value of brands to everyday people. Against a backdrop of low trust in business leaders, we’re seeing forward-looking, purpose-oriented brands rise to the top, and some historic brands fall, particularly with younger people,” said Sebastian Buck, enso’s co-founder and strategic lead.

The list of top-10 organizations whose mission and purpose are perceived as creating the most world value included nonprofits (Goodwill), brands traditionally associated with social impact and purpose (Dove), as well as brands providing practical value to people through their products and services (Amazon, Google). Below are the top-10 ranking brands:

1.     Goodwill

2.     Girl Scouts of the USA

3.     Amazon

4.     Save the Children

5.     Google

6.     World Wildlife Fund

7.     YMCA

8.     Microsoft

9.     Dove

10.  Subway

This past year has been perhaps one of the most politically divisive in history. An unexpected victory in the presidential election and inflamed tensions between both parties and those who don’t associate with one. Increasing levels of participation in marches and protests, and the ascent of social media echo chambers.

In an age when presidential policies and complex social conversations are aired in 140 characters or less, and when narratives morph in real-time to keep up with changing public opinion, it’s no surprise that brands, such as Starbucks and ExxonMobil, are getting caught up in the deep division of values and visions of the future. And these brands, as vessels of their values, can fall divisively on one side of the political spectrum or the other.


Some highlights of the survey include:

  • Nearly 80% of people believe in business’ ability to make a positive impact, but only 41% trust business leaders to do what’s right.
  • So who does trust business leaders? People who earn more than $100k and have at least a college education, and those who identify as Republicans.
  • Democrats and people who earn less than $50K are sour on the overall direction of the country, but they are optimistic about their own families’ economic prospects.
  • Meanwhile, Millennials are embracing activism. An impressive 4 out of 10 have taken a concrete action IRL, like marching in a protest, within the last year.
  • But activism is somewhat of a luxury; those who actively support causes with the goal of creating change in the world tend to have higher incomes and education levels.
  • Speaking of change, people who believe that experiencing other cultures is important are much more likely to feel they have the ability to affect the world around them than those who do not.
  • Starbucks is the most politically polarizing brand. NPR is second.
  • Everyone ranks Marlboro at or near the bottom of the list except for Baby Boomers, tech skeptics, and those who don’t find experiencing other cultures important.
  • Procter & Gamble seems to have a Millennial problem.
  • Brands skewing towards high earners with a college degree: Patagonia, Khan Academy, Chobani, Starbucks.
  • Brands skewing towards those earning under $50K: Barbie, Yahoo, NBC, Always.


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