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Communication, business, and even some intimate social interaction, all happen more and more today through the medium of technology. So it is not surprising that for Canadians, tech brands are considered by far the most influential.

Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook topped research firm Ipsos Reid’s annual list of the “Most Influential Brands” in Canada. The company revealed the results on Tuesday at FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week in Toronto.

Influence index

Ipsos Reid calculates a brand’s influence through a survey of 5,708 Canadians, covering roughly 100 brands that spend the most on advertising in Canada. Respondents agree or disagree with 57 statements, including whether the brand is “relevant to my life,” is “dependable,” is “a trendsetter,” etc., and Ipsos Reid calculates the responses. The index itself is arranged around an average of 100, so the number shows how much more (or less) influential each brand is compared to the average. For example, Google, the top brand, is 3.89 times more influential than the average.

SOURCE: Ipsos Reid Most Influential Brands Study

Drivers of Influence

The questions fall under five categories that show what drives each brand’s influence. For example, for Google, being a “leading edge” company and scoring high on “trust” were major factors, but “presence” in the marketplace did not have as much of an impact. For Tim Hortons, on the other hand, “presence” was the No. 1 factor, while being “leading edge” was not a top driver.

SOURCE: Ipsos Reid Most Influential Brands Study

Some tech brands that do not rank near the top are quickly gaining ground: Samsung, LG, Twitter and Netflix have all booked huge increases in influence since Ipsos Reid launched the study in 2011. And this was Google’s third year at No. 1.

“They’ve changed how we operate, in every way,” Ipsos Reid chief operating officer Steve Levy said of the top technology brands. “They are the leaders of the new paradigm of interconnectedness. They are fundamentally changing society.”

2014's top ten brands by order of influence, over time

Perhaps not surprising given consumers’ increasing reliance on technology, tech brands have scored high in the study, and have not fluctuated much in recent years. And those that have not been on top are quickly gaining ground: Samsung, LG, Twitter and Netflix have all booked huge increases in influence.

SOURCE: Ipsos Reid Most Influential Brands Study

There are some significant differences in brand influence across different age groups.

For example, CBC, Canadian Tire, and The Weather Network all scored within the top 10 brands for baby boomers, but did not rank near the top for others. President’s Choice sits in 10th place over all, but that is also driven by boomers: it is 12th among those surveyed in Generation X and 23rd among younger consumers – a generation often referred to as millennials.

2014's top ten brands amongst different age groups

There are some significant differences in the brands considered most influential by different age groups. The preferences of millennials are particularly worth watching, since they could signal how well a brand is doing in building sustainable influence with future consumers.

SOURCE: Ipsos Reid Most Influential Brands Study

Netflix – one of the fastest-rising brands in Ipsos Reid’s chart compared to previous years’ rankings – landed in the top 10 for millennials, as did Amazon, but neither were in the overall top 10. However, these results are worth watching because they could signal where influence is headed in the future.

“Generational values are formed early in life and stay with the generation as they age,” Mr. Levy said. “... Marketers have to understand these generational differences and cater to them.”

The Institute of Communication Agencies, an industry association, asked Ipsos Reid to do the study as part of the week-long conference in 2011. Since then, it has grown to comprise 20 countries and roughly 33,000 people surveyed. Global results are still being tabulated.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said CIBC was a top 10 brand with baby boomers. In fact, it should have read CBC. This online version has been corrected.

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