Google tops Ipsos list of most influential brands for seventh straight year

If you’re wondering about the most influential brand in Canada, the search once again begins and ends with Google.

For the seventh year in a row, the tech colossus has topped Ipsos Canada’s ranking of the country’s most influential brands. The annual list is based on interviews with 6,700 Canadians, in which they are asked to assess brands on 11 key attributes—including helping them make better decisions, having an important impact on the world ,and changing their everyday language.

It’s a tech, tech, tech, world

Google is one of seven tech companies among the top 10 Most Influential Brands, joined by Amazon (#2), Apple (#3), Facebook (#4), Microsoft (#5), YouTube (#6), and Netflix (#8). The Ipsos study also identified another tech firm, Uber, as a “fast mover” after it shot up 30 spots—from 75th to 45th.

Steve Levy, Ipsos Canada’s chief operating officer, said that tech brands benefit from several characteristics that contribute to consumer perception of influence: they provide assistance, they have ongoing interaction with consumers (“repetition creates opportunity,” said Levy), they listen and encourage “authentic dialogue” with customers, and they are embracing AI.

“They’re exerting more influence because in many respects that’s what AI is allowing them to do,” said Levy.

The top 10 is rounded out by Visa Canada (#7), Walmart Canada (#9) and Tim Hortons (#10). Levy said that all the top 10 brands share a “deep understanding” of our on-demand culture.

Hey, it’s Google!

Google ranked first across all genders, generations and regions, amassing a score of 412 on Ipsos’ “Influence Index” (meaning that it is 4.1 times as influential as the average brand on the list).

The primary drivers of its influence are being perceived as “leading edge” and “trustworthy,” which account for 35% and 32% respectively among the five key attributes that contribute to its overall ranking (the others are engagement, presence and corporate citizenship).

Levy said that 41% of Canadians ascribe the function “introduces me to something I never knew I needed” to Google, far higher than any other brand on the list. “What brand wouldn’t want to have that attribute?” said Levy.

While the majority of Google’s revenue is derived from online advertising, the Ipsos report also notes that the company continues to make significant inroads with its hardware, software and AI offerings.

Amazon moves up, while Facebook dips

Canada’s second most influential brand, Amazon, moved up on the list for the fifth consecutive year with a score of 318 on the Influence Index. A mainstay in the top 10 since 2015, Amazon continues to solidify its position both through the growth of its hardware business—it added 12 new devices in September alone—and its Amazon Prime service.

Amazon logo.png

Facebook, meanwhile, was one of two brands in the top 10 to slip in the rankings, dropping two places to number four—with an Influence Index score of 282—after a year filled with negative headlines around its data practices.

Ispsos notes that its Canadian user numbers are still “staggering,” however, with more than 24 million users (plus another 15 million Instagram users). “Facebook is a good example of a brand that has resilience,” said Ipsos.

Welcome back, Tims

Tim Hortons rejoined the top 10 after slipping to 16th the previous year in the wake of  bad press detailing the growing rancour between ownership and franchisees and negative headlines about some stores’ response to Ontario’s minimum wage hike.


Levy called it spending time in the “penalty box,” a fate that also befell brands including Maple Leaf in the wake of the listeria crisis, Samsung in the wake of the exploding phone fiasco and Apple following the “bendgate” controversy.

According to Ipos, the company’s “True Stories” marketing campaign helped re-affirm its reputation for being part of the Canadian fabric. With nearly 4,000 stores across the country, its no surprise that presence accounted for 50% of Tim Hortons overall influence ranking, followed by corporate citizenship at 28%.

Netflix is chill

The streaming video service, which has approximately 6.5 million Canadian subscribers, jumped up to 8th place on the list, separated from its competitors by its billions of dollars of investment in original content.

Being “leading edge” accounts for 37% of Netflix’s overall ranking, while trustworthiness accounted for 26%.

Its once unassailable position as the streaming video service of choice is being challenged by Amazon, as well as rumoured entries from Google, Apple and Disney. “Until then, Netflix gets to kick back with some popcorn and enjoy its immense success in this market,” said Ipsos.

But where are the Canadian-owned brands?

Aside from Tim Hortons—which is part of a global multinational—there are no Canadian-owned brands featured in the top 10.

While this might lead to hand-wringing about the inability of Canadian companies to compete at a global level, Levy said that local brands seldom appear in the top 10 in any of the 17 countries in which Ipsos conducts the study (the exceptions are the U.S., where all of the top 10 are American, and China).

In the majority of cases, said Levy, it’s because local brands have insufficient scale and scope, and don’t boast the same access to capital and talent as global brands. “Whenever we do see a local brand in the top 10, that brand must be truly exceptional,” he said.

Also of note…

Ipsos also identified McDonald’s as another fast mover. It moved up 13 spots, from 29th to 16th, buoyed by factors including kiosk and mobile app ordering and partnerships with online delivery services like Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats…Visa moved up one spot to seventh overall, with trust and presence its leading features. Approximately 63% of Canadians own a Visa card, said Ipsos… Walmart fell two spots to ninth, with Ipsos wondering if its battle with Amazon for online shoppers could be the cause. “That competition is undoubtably fierce and will play out further over time,” Ipsos concluded.

–Chris Powell.

Chris Powell