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The Most Desired Brands of 2012

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The emotional connection between brands and consumers has an immeasurable impact on what people buy and how they perceive the company that produces that brand.

"If I really, really love Apple (AAPL), then everything Apple does I will react to more positively because it's passing through this filter," says Gary Singer, the CEO of Buyology, a neuro-insight firm.

The only category in which men and women had the same top three brands in the same order was in finance, with Visa listed ahead of American Express and Mastercard, according to a Buyology and uSamp survey.

It's that "filter" that interests Singer and prompted Buyology to survey 4,000 Americans with research company uSamp using a unique scientific methodology to determine which of among 240 popular brands were the most desired by consumers.

"What we're really doing is scientifically measuring what is the strength of the connection with brands," he says.

As part of the survey, respondents would look at images such as a polar bear and be shown pictures of two brands such as Coca-Cola (KO) and Southwest Airlines (LUV). The respondent would be asked to select quickly which brand he or she associated with the polar bear picture. Singer says this method allows Buyology and uSamp to measure how deeply felt the connection is between brand and consumer based on how quickly they respond.

So here are the most desired brands in America, broken down by industry and ranked based on which brands had the most positive reaction from men and women.

The most desired consumer/personal goods brands
For men: 1. Dove; 2. Febreze; 3. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
For women: 1. Dove; 2. Neutrogena; 3. Crest
Dove (UL) was the top personal goods brand for men and women, a fact that surprised even Singer until he learned that the Dove for Men line is a favorite among his male co-workers.

Febreze's spot on the list was another point of interest. Singer says it's because this brand is what he calls a "facilitator."

"For single men, Febreze (PG) is almost like Axe [body spray] for the home," he joked, adding that it facilitates a clean home that would impress female guests.

The most desired electronics brands
For men: 1. Sharp; 2. Canon (CAJ); 3. Sony
For women: 1. Sony; 2. Nokia; 3. Phillips
"Of all the categories, electronics is probably the most broad," Singer admits. This may account for the fact men and women agreed only on Sony (SNE) as a desirable brand.

Singer also was surprised by Nokia's (NOK) placement on the list, since the company has struggled somewhat in recent years. But Singer says this is a hopeful sign for the company, in which women must see a "latent brand value."

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