NHS climbs up Most Connected Brand chart, just behind Amazon

The NHS. Three little letters, years of history. The institution that was there fighting the good fight in the depths of the pandemic, and the institution that will see us out of it.

It seems strange to call the NHS a brand, but when Opinium asked 6,000 nationally representative UK adults to identify the Most Connected Brands of 2021, the NHS entered the Top 100 for the very first time. Not only that, but it has climbed its way to the top, landing in the second spot, just behind Amazon.

The top 10 most connected brands

The Most Connected Brands score is based on four key measures: Prominence, Distinction, Dynamism and Emotion. The first one, Prominence, is all about the brand’s presence and scale, and the NHS - third in Prominence behind Amazon and Google - has definitely been at the forefront of our minds over the last year-and-a-half. As we counted the days towards the easing of numerous lockdowns, we thought about it every day, applauding key workers, rallying to “Protect the NHS” and looking to it to provide a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

The NHS also came second - after Amazon - in Distinction. Among hundreds of brands, the NHS feels the least “brand-like”, being unique in its altruism and non-material value.

The third measure, Buzz, is one of the two that the NHS has outperformed even Amazon on. Buzz is all about momentum and adaptability, and in the face of a pandemic that has brought so much uncertainty with it, it’s unsurprising the NHS has been crowned as being the best at adapting to it.

The fourth measure, the other one that the NHS has bested Amazon on, is Emotion. At the end of the day, what is more emotional than being human? And what is more human than an institution that’s about tangibly helping real people? What’s more human than exhausted doctors and nurses with mask indentations on their faces, living to fight another day?

Top performing brands across each MCB measure

Few brands, no matter how good their products and services are, are life and death. Quite literally, the NHS is: it’s there with us when we come into this life, and there when we leave. And so many of us have left since the start of the pandemic: 128,000 in the UK alone at the time of writing. When so few silver linings can be found in the face of hardship, one thing is clear: the pandemic has not only brought us an awareness of how essential the NHS is to every one of us, but it has connected us with the NHS and everyone who is a part of it.

Written by Ande Milinyte, research manager at Opinium