Argyle Public Relationships

Returning the love: How can brands build “public relationships?”

By Daniel Tisch

/ Posted in Brand

Study shows Canada’s banks lead, while sports teams lag in reciprocating our love


Relationships index

While Valentine’s Day is all about personal relationships, the latest Argyle Public Relationships Index™ shows that almost three quarters of Canadians want relationships with the brands they buy – but our love is frequently unrequited. And when it comes to relationship-building with the public, Canada’s banks are doing better than airlines, insurance companies, communications providers and sports teams.


The study, conducted in partnership between Argyle and Leger Research Intelligence, shows that 73 per cent of respondents are interested in having relationships with the brands they buy and the service providers with which they do business. 82 per cent say they are more likely to do business with a brand that builds a relationship with them, and the same number say they are more likely to recommend the brand to their friends.


What makes a great relationship? Six things


The Leger/Argyle research also compared five types of brands to explore which were most successful at building “public relationships” with their fans, looking at six key metrics of relationships between brands and their publics: trust, satisfaction, commitment, caring for customers, concern for people, and the public’s ability to influence of the brand.


The Argyle Public Relationships Index averages public ratings of how the brand they know best in each sector performs on the six dimensions.


Who is leading, and who is lagging?

Sector Public Relationship Index™ for Sector (out of 100) Strongest relationship-builders
Bank or credit card company 68 Big banks: RBC (70)

Other banks: Tangerine (75)

Airlines 67 Porter (74), WestJet (74) (tie)
Insurance companies 62 CAA (66), Intact (66)
Communications providers (telephone, cable, internet) 58 Videotron (73)
Pro sports teams 42 Toronto Raptors (52)


Canada’s banks edged out airlines for the top public relationships score in these five key sectors. But the greatest surprise is that despite Canadians’ passion for sports, we don’t feel the nation’s professional franchises are returning this love by building strong relationships with their fans. View the interactive Relationships Index here.


According to academic research, there are six dimensions of relationships between brands and their publics: trust; satisfaction; perceived commitment; caring for customers (“exchange relationship”); and concern for people like me (“communal relationship”). Argyle and Leger worked together to create the Argyle Public Relationships Index in 2016, aggregating these measures to benefit Canadian brands.


Argyle Relationships Index infographic_FINAL3

Download Infographic (.pdf)


The takeaways


Our latest study has two big takeaways:


First, while Canadians want to love their brands, the research shows we often feel the love affair is one-sided. For brands, this presents both a risk and an opportunity.


Second, given the strong correlation in the research between relationships, sales and recommendations, brands need to do better at building ‘public relationships’ across the board.


About the study


The Argyle Public Relationships Index™, conducted in partnership with Leger Research Intelligence, is based on a survey of more than 1,500 Canadians completed online in two waves — the first in May 2016, and the second in January 2017. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%.


Argyle expresses its appreciation to Dr. Alex Sevigny of McMaster University for his counsel in the development of the study.


If your company is interested in a briefing on the survey, please contact us at

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