Google has more charisma than Apple, says new study

Commentary: A study by a UK consultancy asks Americans how they see various brands. Amazon comes out on top, but the nuances are fascinating.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The soul of charisma?

Getty Images

Some people have it; some people don't.

And some people think they have it when they don't.

Charisma works on that strange emotional dimension that allows those who have it to make others believe broccoli is blue and the sky is made of discarded Skittles.

UK brand consultancy Brandwell and its research partners thought they'd create a Charisma Index for some of the world's most famous brands -- many of them, of course, in tech. 

The researchers defined charisma along a number of axes: consciousness, purpose, integrity, generosity, courage and delivery.

They talked to people in the US, the UK, Germany and Italy. However, they kindly offered me the US breakdown -- 3,135 people -- for my perusal.

We're a tortured nation right now, and I wanted to see where we find so-called charisma and where we don't.

It seems we believe Amazon has the most charisma of all brands. Indeed, the retailer scored the highest in every category but one: generosity. Which the researchers define as, "Is this a brand that gives of itself and its services, motivated by more than profit?"

You mean Amazon is a touch money-obsessed? Perish the idea.

The most generous business in this survey was Google. Indeed, the advertising company with some self-driving cars attached came second overall in the Charisma Index. 

But wait, I hear you cry, Apple has always set itself up as the finest of marketers. Don't people believe it has even more charisma than the nice people who host "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Bachelor"?

It appears not. 

Apple came eighth in this survey, behind Hershey, Lego, Netflix, Kellogg's and Disney. 

The maker of iGadgets scored really quite poorly on the generosity axis. It was almost a full point (scores were out of 10) behind Google. Actually, its generosity score was even behind that of Microsoft and Samsung.

It was, though, far ahead of somewhat mercurial brands such as United Airlines, Equifax, Wells Fargo and Donald Trump.

Apple's highest scores were for purpose ("Is this a brand that knows what it stands for, and where it is going?") and, something that will cheer fanpersons, courage ("Is this a brand that dares to innovate, and not settle for following or copying others?").

Apple, Amazon and Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The researchers say their Charisma Index describes a brand's strength and resilience. They say it declares "the truth about [brands'] consumer relationships."

It's quite clear that tech brands currently need as much resilience as they can find, given how many are being assailed as being responsible for society's imminent demise.

The truth of a relationship can be a shape-shifting beast, though. A brand can make one false move and consumers might decide this wasn't the love-thing they thought.

For now it seems Americans believe Amazon and Google are giving them more of what they want.

'Alexa, be more human': Inside Amazon's effort to make its voice assistant smarter, chattier and more like you.

Does the Mac still matter? Apple execs explain why the MacBook Pro was over four years in the making, and why we should care.