The latest Meaningful Brands study, by media agency Havas, questioned 375,000 people across 33 countries, and reported that, as in previous years, people wouldn't care if three quarters of brands they use disappeared.
This year, Havas also looked at the role of content for the first time and found that 84% of respondents expected brands to produce content in some form, whether entertainment, solutions or experiences.
But 60% of the content created by the world's leading 1,500 brands, it added, is 'poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver'.
'The data demonstrates an alarming ineffectiveness of existing brand content,' said Maria Garrido, Global Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, Havas Media Group. 'Our expectations for the role or the types of content are simply not being met.'
The study noted a 71% correlation between content effectiveness and the impact a brand has on consumers' personal well-being – and the greater the effect on well-being, the more meaningful it becomes and the better the business performance in Havas's analysis.
'The core brands such as Google and Ikea that are perennially in our ranking are doing better,' Garrido told Marketing Week, as she remarked on a widening gap between those brands scoring highly in the Meaningful Brands rankings and the rest.
'It comes down to personal benefits delivery,' she said. 'That is what drives business results. This should serve as a wake-up call.'
One common failing, Garrido suggested, is that brands don't focus their content on the right areas.
'Brands get rose-tinted glasses about entertaining people and think that is all consumers want,' she explained.
'What brands need to do is break down their content, take a step back and ask, for their industry, what the role of content is. Whether it is to inspire, educating, help, reward, inform or entertain then rank them and work out what is a 'must have', where the opportunities are and what they should not be focusing on at all.'
Travel & tourism was the best-performing industry in the Havas Content Effectiveness Index, followed by electronics & telco. Entertainment was lower than one might have expected, in third.
Data sourced from Havas Media, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff