Brands influence our lives and color our perceptions of the world. Brands—powerful brands—bring people together and create communities of like-minded individuals in unprecedented ways. Brand loyalty comes from brands that create relevance in the eyes of the consumer.

So what does it mean to be relevant? Well, in terms of brands, these are the companies that believe in their ability to consistently inspire, influence, and compel people to make important business-related and lifestyle decisions. These brands make purposeful strides to engage their audience and they always deliver on their promise.

Companies that earn and re-earn their market position invest in innovation, with their marketing, messaging, experiences, and product or service offerings.

The results are monumental. And their consumers tend to buy more and more frequently over time. Brand building has the ability to create ambassadors— those that become loyal customers for life.

Prophet, a global consultancy firm, just announced the results of its third annual Prophet Brand Relevance Index™ (BRI). The study ranks brands that have had the most positive impact on consumer’s lives today. Not surprisingly, Apple continues to be the most relevant brand for the third year in a row. In order of rank, the following were the most popular and for good reason. 1) Apple, 2) Google, 3) Amazon, 4) Netflix, 5) Pinterest, 6) Android, 7) Spotify, 8) Pixar, 9) Disney, and 10) Samsung.

So how did these companies make the list? Because they have a commitment to persistently meet customer demands and needs. These companies are obsessed with their customers, are authentic, and are able to push competitors out of the consideration set. In an era of constant revolution and continual change, they manage to do this even with rising customer expectations.

Here lies the challenge for businesses that are competing in a global marketplace. How can they break through the clutter, make an impact, and ultimately be remembered? These questions, if answered correctly, can be the basis for fostering and maintaining a thought provoking and emotionally connected brand.

There is a great opportunity to build a voice and a brand that tells a story—one that is provocative enough that people will follow and believe in a brand—whole-heartedly. But remember, this isn’t just about telling a story, it means that you’ve created the RIGHT story (true and convincing), and tell it explicitly and repeatedly with consistency.

As a leader, a significant investment in brand development is a great strategic move—and in fact, should be considered a business imperative. In particular, successful leaders build buy-in within their organizations so that its employees are dedicated and able to extend the corporate vision to its customers. It’s a sort of spill over effect that strengthens the brand from the inside out.

Leaders of the future realize that brands build market share. And in many cases, brands outlive products. The bottom line is that brands are valuable, well worth the investment, and show their dominance on the balance sheet.

As Alexander Isley, founder of renowned branding and design firm, said,

“A brand is the promise of an experience.”