Betty Crocker

Relatability and authenticity

When consumers can relate to a brand, they are more likely to bring it up in conversation because of that connection. They also tend to trust it more, Mr. Keller said. The Betty Crocker brand capitalizes on its humanization to relate to its consumers.

“One of the things we love about the food industry is that you’ve got brands that have stood the test of time here,” Mr. Keller said. “I love seeing Betty Crocker at No. 2. Betty Crocker was a name that was created — there was no actual Betty Crocker; they just created a name that they wanted people to relate to the brand. It gave a face to the brand. In the '30s and '40s, Betty Crocker would get tens of thousands of letters each week asking questions about baking and recipes. In the 1940s, Eleanor Roosevelt was the most admired woman in America and Betty Crocker was No. 2. They really humanized the brand. I think that’s a message that carries forward here. How do you humanize the brand so people can relate to it — particularly in food where it can be either sort of healthy eating or indulgences. It’s what going inside of you, and you want to make sure that you have a lot of trust in that brand. So how do you build that authenticity?”

Perdue Chicken has used its family business roots to humanize its brand and make it relatable to the current generation, regardless of the fact that the company is nearly 100 years old. Because of this, Perdue Chicken hopped 17 spots to claim the No. 4 spot on the TotalSocial list.

Perdue Chicken

“One of the things that’s really interesting to us about Perdue … if we look at the ranking as a whole … sometimes people think, ‘Oh to be a hot trendy brand you’ve got to be a new brand and tech savvy’ and all that, and one of the things we’ve learned is that that’s not the case at all,” Mr. Keller said. “Any brand has an opportunity to be a good total social brand. Perdue’s rise here is evidence of that. It’s a family business. One of the things they’ve done really well, for decades they’ve used television to create the first significant branded chicken. They did it with the face of the business as the father and now the grandfather, whoever Frank Perdue is to the current generation. They used him to humanize the brand. I think it was a smart way to go then, and I think that they’re proving that you can continue with a theme that’s worked in the past and refresh it and make it contemporary, but they’ve launched a new campaign with children and the grandchildren, so it’s a family business. They focus on organics. Going forward they’ve got that family connection going and they’ve got the no antibiotics, so they’re building on a lot of good marketing themes, and that’s proof positive that when you give something to people that’s worth talking about, they will talk about it. That’s the challenge is figuring out not just what your product is but what the way is to express your product that will engage people and make them want to talk about it with others.

“We’ve seen in particular by the brands that stand out at the top that authenticity is really important to the consumer today. You can build on your heritage extremely well. Don’t’ feel like it’s only techy brands that get people talking or that it’s only something that’s new. We can create talkable stories out of brands that have been around for decades and in many of these cases a century by tapping into things that are new and current to consumers.”