Apple, Cadbury and Walkers named the best storytelling brands in the U.K.

The adopters of the famous Greek fabulist Aesop’s approach, the namesake London-based agency has conducted a comprehensive research among 1530 18+ U.K. residents to reveal the top 10 ‘storytelling’ brands, referred to as those that are “engaging, memorable, with unique character and personality, with a clear sense of purpose/vision, authentic and believable,” among other storytelling credentials.

Terms and methodology

The online study, managed by OnePoll, offered participants to answer 10 questions choosing an appropriate variant from 100 company names from retail, food & soft drinks, non-food FMCG, telecoms/tech, restaurant/food chains, automotive, financial services and three other categories. The goal was to find out which brands clearly demonstrated who they were, what they stand for and what their ultimate purpose was, what formed their story. By a “great story”, Ed Woodcock, Aesop Strategy Director and the curator of the research, means a successful combination of a brand’s “heroic” credentials, such as being engaging, memorable etc.

Top storytellers: Apple, Cadbury, Walkers

Apple, with seven out of the ten proposed categories including ‘brands considered to have a unique character or personality’ and ‘brands with a clear sense of purpose or vision,’ leads the general ranking of the U.K. Best Storytelling Brands, followed by Cadbury and Walkers. Interestingly, the combined rankings by gender reveal different top 5 performers with Apple, Walkers, Cadbury, BMW, Guinness and Coca-Cola chosen by men, and Cadbury, Apple, Walkers, Coca-Cola, M&S—by women, respectively.

Top 10 Brand Storytellers

  1. Apple
  2. Cadbury
  3. Walkers
  4. Coca-Cola
  5. McDonald’s
  6. M&S
  7. Kellogg’s
  8. Heinz
  9. Fairy
  10. IKEA


Combined ranking Top 10 – By gender – MEN (left) and WOMEN (right)                                      
  1. Apple
  2. Walkers
  3. Cadbury
  4. BMW
  5. Guinness
  6. Coca-Cola
  7. McDonald’s
  8. Kellogg’s
  9. Heinz
  10. M&S
  1. Cadbury
  2. Apple
  3. Walkers
  4. Coca-Cola
  5. M&S
  6. Dove
  7. McDonald’s
  8. Heinz
  9. Fairy
  10. IKEA


Top 10 Brand Categories in Which Brands Perform Best as Storytellers

  1. Retail
  2. Food & Soft Drinks
  3. FMCG (Cosmetics, Toiletries & Household)
  4. Restaurants/Food chains
  5. Telecoms/Tech
  6. Airlines
  7. FMCG-Alcohol
  8. Automotive
  9. Financial Services
  10. Utilities

Commenting on the high position of Apple in the ranking of storytellers, Woodcock says: “Apple has such a strong narrative that it takes on aspects of religion to some consumers. Even the rest of us who are less evangelical are always left asking ‘what are they going to do next?’”

Brands with a unique character or personality

Discussing the role of the brand’s character in storytelling, Woodcock notes:

People relate to characters in a story. Every story needs a protagonist and likewise every brand story. Brands need character for people to relate to them. In most cases, the brand is the hero of its own story, and its personality comes through in the tone of voice of its communications. But a spokesperson or character can also help this process of personification, which explains why KFC (the Colonel) and Jack Daniels (they eponymous) have scored well in the study. Quite simply, when it comes to this question it’s easier to relate to a person than an abstract identity.”

TOP 10 (left) and BOTTOM 10 (right) brands considered to have a unique character or personality     
  1. Apple
  2. Cadbury
  3. Guinness
  4. McDonald’s
  5. Coca-Cola
  6. BMW
  7. IKEA
  8. Walkers
  9. KFC
  10. Jack Daniels
  1. Scottish and Southern Energy
  2. Thames Water
  3. Scottish Power
  5. TalkTalk
  6. HTC
  7. RBS
  8. E.ON
  9. HSBC
  10. Co-op Energy


The study found some noteworthy facts:

  • Guinness is perceived as the top storytelling beer
  • McDonald’s and KFC are perceived as top brands with a unique personality/character
  • Cadbury is the most authentic and believable brand
  • Apple, Cadbury and Tesco are the brands that people most likely discuss with others
  • RBS is the worst performing financial brand in the ranking perceived to have few storytelling attributes.
LONDON Top 10 (left) and Bottom 10 (right) Storytellers                                                               
  1. Apple
  2. Cadbury
  3. Coca-COla
  4. M&S
  5. Walkers
  6. McDonald’s
  7. IKEA
  8. John Lewis
  9. Innocent
  10. Kellogg’s
  1. Ecottish & Southern Energy
  2. Scottish Power
  3. TalkTalk
  4. NPower
  5. RBS
  6. HTC
  7. Nissan
  8. Citroen
  9. E.ON
  10. Co-op Energy

The current research by Aesop and OnePoll deliberately excludes the media and social-media brands—this will be the subject of the next study to be published in October 2013.