How brand perceptions differ across the pond

Stephan Shakespeare
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HOW different are British and American perceptions of the same brands? We took a quick look at the BrandIndex UK and US scores of three pairs of brands. Not surprisingly, American Airlines did better in America (average for the last year, plus 14) than in the UK (plus 6), and British Airways did better in Britain (plus 24) than in the US (plus 14).

The same pattern held true for American Express (plus 9 in the US, zero in the UK) and Barclays (plus 24 in the UK, plus 15 in the US). There was poor correlation between the scores in the two countries for each of the four brands. But we saw a different pattern with two oil brands, BP and Esso (Exxon). The British oil giant is slightly more highly rated in America than on its own turf (plus 13 versus plus 11), though Esso is less liked here (minus 10) than in the US (zero).

Interesting is where there is – and isn’t – correlation for the tracking in each country. Of graphs for the six brands, three show that the up and down movement is very similar (Graph 1, BP in the UK and US, Graph 2, Barclays, and not shown, Esso), while the other three – Amex, BA and American?Airlines – show no relationship.

The reasons for the correlations are unlikely to be due to changes related to the specific brands: much more likely the cause is reactions to the sectors, where perceptions are driven by the same forces in each country. As we have observed before, pump prices are reliable drivers of perception, and we should hardly be surprised to find that banking brands move together in these times of financial crisis. American Express, clearly, is not associated with any responsibility for the calamities.

Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.