NEW YORK: Subway, Google and Target are the brands boasting the highest level of online social currency, according to a new study by Vivaldi Partners, the consultancy.

Its poll of 15,000 German, British and American web users assessed how they received and spread information from brands, as well as buzz, advocacy and engagement, membership of social communities and if brands were part of an individual's "identity".

Subway, the sandwich chain, topped the resulting charts on 742 points, assisted by the fact it had 21m fans on Facebook and 1m followers on Twitter, alongside securing high engagement rates.

The ideas that helped the company stand out in this space included running popular promoted deals without resorting to heavy-handed marketing language, as well as a digital "Flavorizer", letting web users create and christen a sandwich.

Google, the online giant, claimed second position on 709 points, assisted by the development of its slate of cross-platform Google+ social tools, which together have 500m users across Gmail,, YouTube, Google Maps, and so on.

"This all-encompassing business model boosts social media presence and leverages business impact," Erich Joachimsthaler, Vivaldi's chief executive, told Forbes.

"Social currency is not just about social media and Facebook likes. You can change your entire business model or the way you bring a product to market."

Next in the rankings was Target, the retailer, with 688 points. The firm was lauded for its strong presence on various sites from Twitter and Instagram to Tumblr and Pinterest.

Moreover, the company has built several apps for Facebook, including those for newly-married couples, technology fans or simply people hoping to save money.

Heineken, the beer brand, was fourth on 665 points, having also recently been named as the leading digital player in its category by think tank L2.

Fifth spot was shared by Verizon, the communications group, and Dunkin' Donuts, the restaurant chain, both on 661 points.

Overall, the report estimated that 53% of brand equity among this audience – described as their willingness to a pay a premium for a product – was attributable to their social currency.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff