Will Samsung’s Brand Overtake Apple?

Source: utabrandstudio.com via BusinessWire.comAlthough not everyone uses Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) products, it’s safe to say that almost everyone is familiar with the California-based company’s iconic logo and its trendsetting iPhone and iPad. Last year, Apple’s brand was identified by Forbes as the world’s most valuable. Similarly, Interbrand ranked Apple at the top of its 2013 list of “Best Global Brands.”

Although Apple is currently topping many market research companies’ lists of best consumer brands, there are several indications that the power of Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) brand is gaining on Apple. Haydn Shaughnessy at Forbes cited several recent studies that suggest Samsung may soon give Apple a run for its money.

One of the cited studies is a new “Brand Dependence” index from branding agency UTA Brand Studio.  This new index uses a variety of nontraditional marketing metrics to measure the strength of a consumer brand, including categories called “Intensity” and “Impact.” According to the Brand Dependence index, “Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Samsung topped the list of technology brands that consumers say they can’t live without and relate more to themselves.”

Samsung achieved the highest Intensity score, while Microsoft had the highest Impact score. According to UTA Brand Studio, Intensity measures how much people “cannot live without” a brand and Impact measures brand familiarity and consumers’ connection to the brand. Overall, Apple ranked fifth in the Brand Dependence index, scoring one point below Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Sony (NYSE:SNE).

Source: utabrandstudio.com via BusinessWire.comOn the other hand, the Brand Dependence index also showed that Apple’s score varied greatly when the data was broken down by household income. Among respondents with annual household incomes of $50,000 or more, Apple was the No. 1 brand. However, among respondents with annual household incomes below $50,000, Apple didn’t even crack the top five. Apple also scored high in the Intensity category among respondents with college degrees.

“It tells us that more than anything, Apple is a very aspirational luxury brand, akin to Mercedes,” noted UTA Brand Studio founder and executive director Laurence Vincent. The Brand Dependence index also found that Apple was the most polarizing brand, with many respondents either hating it or loving it.

“This new branding index provides a more accurate depiction of how US consumers relate to leading brands. It challenges conventional wisdom that tends to look solely at intent to purchase, likability and sales-driven econometrics,” stated Vincent. “Our index evaluates brand-self connection and the degree to which thoughts and feelings about a brand come to mind automatically — requiring little effort. This metric has been proven to be a better gauge of a brand’s influence and market power.”

Besides outscoring Apple in the new Brand Dependence index, Shaughnessy also noted that Samsung has been making gains in the social media arena. According to a recent EConsultancy report, Samsung has been dominating social media platforms like YouTube and Vine. Although Samsung has yet to crack the top five on Forbes’ list of the “World’s Most Valuable Brands” or Interbrand’s list of “Best Global Brands,” it appears that consumer affection for the Korea-based company is growing.

Here’s how Apple traded on Friday.

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Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

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