For the 67% of US online adults who use smartphones, everyday life is made up of a web of mobile moments. The gaps in our days are absorbed with checking email while waiting for a grande skinny soy latte, frenetically refreshing a delayed flight status as another winter storm blasts through, or catching up with real, virtual, and long-lost friends on our social network of choice. Wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon power many of those mobile moments. Their business and their brands should be booming on the back of consumers’ need for constant connectivity, but our research shows that these brands are falling short.  

In our TRUE brand compass survey of US wireless carriers, consumers found brand leadership wanting. Verizon Wireless achieved the highest ranking of the 10 brands surveyed, propelled by second quintile scores for being trusted and essential. But none of the brands achieved the top-ranking tiers of trailblazer or leader. The prescription? Wireless brands must seek to win hearts, not just contracts. 

T-Mobile is seeking to do just that. At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, Peter DeLuca, T-Mobile’s SVP of brand and advertising, told Advertising Age that in 2015 T-Mobile plans to focus on brand building. It’s off to a good start. Our research shows that T-Mobile's bold move to a more customer-centric contract-free business model has captured customers' attention. The carrier has some way to go before it wins top marks from customers, but it is getting recognized for being transparent in its communications, because it makes it easy to compare service options and pricing, while providing flexible pricing and contract options. Other proof that it's working? T-Mobile is leading other carriers in singing up customers; the provider added 8.3 million customers in 2014, an 89% increase over the prior year.  

To learn more about how T-Mobile and other wireless carrier brands are resonating with consumers, check out my new report “Wireless Brands Fail To Connect With Consumers” (subscription required). And to learn more about our TRUE brand compass framework, read the recently updated “Measure Brand Resonance With The TRUE Brand Compass” (subscription required).