Illustration by Michael Solita

Breakthrough Brands 2017

Meet the ten new tech companies who’ve best captured consumers’ minds.

What does it take for a brand to truly break through in today’s crowded market? Just as it has with everything else, digital transformation has upended the traditional rules of marketing. In less than a decade brands like Uber and Airbnb have attained the kind of consumer mindshare that companies used to have to work decades to create. Part of this is the simple fact that most of these newer brands are technology companies; they provide products and services that themselves can be built almost overnight, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, cloud computing, and fast, free, and universally accessible digital tools. But many of these brands are also resonating on a deeper level with consumers. We wanted to get to the bottom of which companies best exemplified this—those brands that have attained the emotional resonance with consumers typically reserved for big blue-chip companies, but in a fraction of the time. So we surveyed 4,000 consumers and asked them to name the brands that meant the most to them, both overall and across a variety of industries. We then sorted the list by industry, category, and age to come up with our list of 10 “Breakthrough Brands”—companies that, when measured on the basis of how they resonate with consumers, sit side by side with Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, and other mature brands despite being relative babes. The 10 names here are new and white-hot; they are all tech companies; and they have all “broken through” to claim space among the giants. All but two of them are less than a decade old.

We’ve also shared some other key findings from our survey, like the brands that received the most mentions overall—those that may have broken through decades ago but still register highly in ­consumers’ minds. On that list, Apple trounced everyone else. But it’s the breakthrough brands of today that we find most compelling. These are the ones that are best ­positioned to become the Apples of tomorrow.

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