AUSTIN, TX: Brands need to demonstrate their usefulness to consumers rather than promising what they may not be able to deliver, according to a new report which found that Amazon is the most useful brand in the US.

Independent creative agency T3 interviewed a panel of 5,500 consumers for its first Useful Brand study. It weighed 14 different elements – association, value, trust, friendliness, confidence, safety, quality, efficiency, ease, consistency, availability, empowerment, innovation, and customisation – in reaching a Useful Brand Score

Online retailer Amazon topped this ranking, followed by adhesive bandage Band Aid, tech giant Google, tissue supplier Kleenex and financial services brand Visa.

The top ten was rounded out by delivery firms UPS and FedEx, retailer Home Depot, tech business Microsoft and food manufacturer Quaker Oats.

Usefulness differed by industry and offering, also by the age of the consumer and other demographics.

Millennials, for example, rated Google as the number one most useful brand whereas Boomers and Gen Xers preferred Amazon. LEGO, PayPal, and Netflix were also in the millennial top five.

"Technology has not only changed the landscape, it's forever altered the fundamentals of marketing," said Ben Gaddis, innovation officer at T3.

"It's our belief that the issue holding back most brands is an imbalance in a very simple equation," he added.

"Most brands focus their resources almost exclusively on 'saying' when in fact they should be focused first and foremost on 'doing'. It seems almost elementary when one says it out loud, yet it's a quality sorely lacking in the broader market."

It's an area that was explored by the winner of the 2014 Admap Prize. Megan Averell, an account director at Melbourne agency GalKal, argued that in the digital age the best brands were investing in exceeding expectations with their product, service and experience.

"They say what they do (with confidence) instead of distracting with emotional promises; and they use their marketing voice sparingly, as the icing on the cake," she noted.

She suggested there could even be a correlation between consumers wanting to talk more about a brand and how much less that brand speaks.

Data sourced from T3; additional content by Warc staff