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A new study from Forrester may surprise you: Microsoft — not Apple — is doing a better job of building its consumer brand.

mscampusThe study was based on brand resonance (preference over other brands, referral, willingness to pay a premium price), in addition to Forrester’s “TRUE brand compass research,” which analyzes how trusted, remarkable, unmistakeable and essential (TRUE) brands are to consumers.

A survey of 4,551 U.S. adults showed the most trusted and essential tech brand as Microsoft — Forrester called it a “surprise upset.” In fact, the Redmond software giant was the only company to achieve the highest “trailblazer” status in the study’s TRUE rankings, with Apple, Sony and Samsung following.

The study found that although Apple had the highest overall rank for being “unmistakable,” and, “remarkable,” consumers do not consider the company to be as essential as Microsoft.

“While Apple and Samsung battle it out to reign supreme with the coveted Millennial generation, Microsoft has quietly stolen the consumer technology crown by becoming more trusted and essential across multiple generations,” writes Forrester’s Tracy Stokes. “The very ubiquity that perhaps renders it uncool turns out to also be its strength.”

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Forrester applauded Microsoft moving away from an individual product marketing approach this past summer when it announced its new “One Microsoft” company hierarchy. It also noted the Microsoft Store, which helps give “consumers a unified brand experience across all of its devices.”

Another report from UTA Brand Studio found similar results this week, with Microsoft topping Apple for brand strength.

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