AESOP, the brand storytelling agency, polled 1,530 UK adults in May 2013, asking them to identify 100 brands against ten storytelling elements, including whether they were memorable, had a unique personality, created their own world and told a good story.
Apple ranked first in seven of the ten categories, only dropping down the order on the 'authentic', 'memorable' and 'engaging' elements.
Ed Woodcock, strategy director and co-founder of Aesop, described Apple as "a heroic brand par excellence" and noted that even those people who did not see it almost in religious terms "are always left asking 'what are they going to do next?'"
While Apple was top, food and soft drinks brands dominated the top ten, with Cadbury in second place, Walkers in third, Coca-Cola in fourth, with Kellogg's and Heinz in seventh and eighth spots respectively.
McDonald's (5th), M&S (6th), Fairy (9th) and IKEA (10th) completed the leading ten storytelling brands.
Utilities were, however, conspicuously failing to tell a story, with Scottish Power, Npower, Thames Water and Scottish & Southern occupying the bottom four spots on the list of 100. British Gas was the top-ranked utility in 55th place overall.
Despite the utilities having a potentially noble mission, an important element of a story, Woodock speculated that "perhaps the story the consumer tends to hear is 'fat cat utility rips off defenceless consumers'. Maybe it's because the press loves to hate utilities – the epitome of the faceless corporation – or maybe because actions can tell a story as loudly as words".
Retail emerged as the category that told the best stories, followed, in order, by food and soft drinks, FMCG, restaurants, telecoms, airlines, alcohol, automotive, financial services and utilities.
Some gender differences were also evident in the results, with women putting Cadbury top of their ranking and Dove at sixth, while men put BMW at fourth and Guinness at fifth in theirs.
Data sourced from AESOP; additional content by Warc staff