The importance of Vitality in a financial world

Latest research

Mark Hirst

Whether it’s Lego developing new sets based on builders’ ideas or DHL’s Parcelcopter, many brands recognise the opportunities that can be gained from encouraging consumers to suggest how brands can improve and getting them to interact with the brand. Consumers see this, more and more, as developing a sense of community with the brand with which they interact and sharing the experience with other people like themselves.

When Harris Interactive developed its brand sustainability framework, hi brands™, it wanted to ensure that not only could it understand the past and present performance of the brand but also gain a forward look to understand about a brand’s:

  • a) future relevance to the consumer and how it will meet their needs
  • b) vitality – the sense of energy, excitement & engagement that the brand generates

Our latest hi brands™ results, for the consumers covering Banking and Home Insurance sectors, show that those brands that score highly in our overall sustainability score, have strong performance when it comes to how they interact with consumers.


Various news agencies such as the BBC (1) and the Independent (2) have been reporting for the last year that we have been in a period of improvement for bank brands’ reputation and our study is supporting that view point.

All but one of the 20+ brands we investigate have seen an improvement in their score. The bank that saw no change in its score did suffer a period of operational difficulties which caused an impact in all 3 areas of the model.

The top 5 overall performing brands for the last 6 months were:

When we plot the top 5 banks’ performance across the 3 measurement areas of:

  • Brand Equity and Knowledge
  • Future Relevance
  • Vitality

four out of five brands feature strongly in the compelling quadrant:

It’s worth noting that Metro’s relative short history accounts for its lower score of present equity and knowledge BUT it scores highest when it comes to Vitality and second highest for Future Relevance.

Home Insurance

Again, we have seen the majority of brands increasing their overall scores with 27 out of 34 brands seeing an improvement in their hi brands score. Here are the top 5:

Again these brands can be seen to perform well in terms of Vitality (the size of their bubble) with 4 out of 5 of them sitting in the compelling quadrant. NFU Mutual has the highest Vitality of all but its lower score on Equity and Knowledge is likely to be because historically it’s been less associated as a brand for all consumers.

So what are the likes of Metro, Nationwide, NFU Mutual and the others doing to be recognised for their vitality by consumers?

The advertising and messaging these brands give to consumers must play a part and also involving consumers in initiatives like communities and face to face meetings allow that two-way interaction to happen. However, many of the other institutions undertake similar activities so is it a case these brands do it better or is there something else happening?

We decided we would dig a little more in this area, using one of our pop up communities where we were able to talk to customers of all the brands featured in this most recent wave of hi brands™.

What became clear very quickly was that there are a number of factors that Financial Services can be doing in order to build closer relationships with consumers so that they can feel part of the organisation’s journey. There are also some things that they should avoid doing, many of which can occur if an attempt to engage with a consumer is not done well.

Whilst this is only a brief introduction to this wave of hi brands™ research, we hope we have been able to stimulate you to think about how you measure your brand’s sustainability and in particular, how your brand might tangibly be generating a feeling of vitality and forward momentum with consumers.

If you are interested in finding more out about your brands sustainability and to explore what consumers said about your brand, contact our experts today to:

  • find out more about the hi brands study and where you brand features
  • see if your brand is not covered, ask how you can get your brand added to the next wave
  • ask how you can access the data behind the overall scores
  • talk to us to explore if the framework can be incorporated into your brand tracking programme.




  • Financial Services
  • hi brands