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PR has a substantial impact on brand growth claims study

For some brands, growth seems almost effortless. Despite often spending proportionally less on advertising than their peers, brands like Apple, Monzo, Octopus and Brewdog manage to keep front of mind and keep growing.

These brands are benefiting from a “Living Brand Effect” - a “Living Brand” is one that is talked about, creates content that is shared and is considered to be in tune with today’s audiences. By unleashing ideas that are more likely to be shared and passed on, they are building an excess share of voice in their category four times more efficiently than their peers.

Conducted amongst over 4,500 respondents using a nationally representative sample, a recent study used regression analysis (see methodology for more details) to identify and benchmark over 140 brands against the key traits that are the most influential reasons why people share content and stories from a brand with others.

The table shows Apple’s (the best performing brand) performance in the research against the 14 key brand traits that are needed to create the “Living Brand Effect”.

The Living Brand Index Top 20

Lessons from brand leaders

Across the categories, common characteristics are found amongst the leaders that clearly differentiate them.

All score strongly on trust traits (they are liked by people I know and trust), remarkable traits (they introduce me to new ideas/exceed expectations) and connected traits (hot in culture/community).

Importantly they all achieve more impact from their earned and owned channels than their competitors.

This was particularly evident when comparing Apple and its competitor Samsung. The tool shows that Apple’s success is powered through word of mouth and editorial media, whereas Samsung is much more reliant on traditional paid advertising.

Channel impact

PR is undervalued

The role that PR plays in building brands is often unclear given its difficulty to measure. This research demonstrates that for many of the brands we admire, PR is at the heart of their success and its role generally in marketing is underrepresented. These findings will hopefully now equip PR and comms teams with the evidence they need to help brands fully unleash the potential of the discipline.


The Living Brand Index tool, created by PR firm Good Relations with research partner Watermelon, helps brands to measure whether they are benefiting from the “Living Brand Effect”. They can also benchmark performance against their industry peers and the best of the best across all categories. The results are updated every six months so that a brand's campaign impact can be tracked and results are made available through a simple dashboard.

Written by Richard Moss, chief executive of Good Relations

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