The Top Brands in America

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Branding has always been critical for companies around the world. Consumers relate to certain brands. Advertising and marketing departments spend endless hours on research and focus groups trying to determine how to better place their product or company in the consumers’ minds.

The 2013 rankings are out, and many of the names on the BrandIndex list are iconic American companies and products. Peter Lynch would probably agree that it makes sense for investors to buy stocks that resonate well with the American public, of course of the valuations are acceptable. If the brand and the company score well with consumers, it’s a good bet that their products will be purchased on a regular basis.

Here are some of the top U.S. stocks that rank high in brand recognition and awareness with consumers. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) ranks highest with consumers overall. The Internet retailing giant is not only dominating sales on the Internet, the company offers cloud storage and retrieval services to businesses of all sizes. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $415.63. Amazon was trading close to $400 on Monday.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) slipped to second place in 2013, but the iconic company remains America’s best-selling vehicle brand. The company’s F-150 truck remains the top-selling truck and has almost gained mythical status in some parts of the country. The consensus price target for Ford is $18, well above the $16.30 stock price. Ford’s brand even allowed it to hike its dividend higher recently.

Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is the home improvement company that ranks the highest with consumers. The company has been using short ads on social media heavyweights Facebook and Twitter featuring home improvement tips. This resonates well with Americans of all ages that spend time on these sites. The consensus price objective for the stock is $52.52. Lowe’s was trading just shy of $50.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) has jumped in to media as a huge player. Its low pricing structure continues to play well with consumers tired of high cable and satellite pricing. The company also has initiated and released production of hip programming that is drawing extremely well. House of Cards was a huge hit last year, and co-star Robin Wright won a Golden Globe for her work in the series. The consensus price estimate for the stock is $342.48. The stock was trading at $345 on Monday morning.

Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is another home improvement company that scores well with consumers. With a roaring new housing market and people enhancing their current homes due to rising values, the company continues hold its place as brand leader. The consensus price objective for the stock is $87.98. Home Depot was trading just below $82.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) resonates well with consumers as a great product producer and a legendary American success story. Now pushing into China, the venerable tech company continues to release products that are well accepted by their fanatical customer base. The consensus price target is posted at $595.73. Apple is trading close to $539.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) has become so dominant as a search vehicle that Americans use the lexicon of “Google it” more than almost any other Internet expression. The company’s YouTube video platform is also one of the top brands in America. The consensus target for the stock price is set at $1,150.82. The stock continues its huge push higher, trading at $1,142.08.

Branding is critical for product success, and American business is acutely aware of it. Companies that succeed in making their brand tops in consumers’ minds often succeed in making their products tops in sales. It is a focus of every major corporation and will continue to be as sophisticated marketing angles and new products continue to arrive on the scene.