Our methodology

Our methodology

We followed a funnel-down approach in three phases to arrive at our key observations, define our metric and create an index of the top ten community brands. ‍



First, we researched academic journals to define community, considering disciplines of sociology, anthropology, political science, and mathematical theories to arrive at a comprehensive definition. From this research, we identified four new characteristics of a strong community:

  • Identity
  • Social capital
  • Oneness
  • Mobilization

Based on these pillars, we created the Community Quotient (CQ): a metric that measures the strength of attachment between a brand and its community. Performance on each pillar is scored on a scale from one to 10, for a total CQ score out of 40. 

To determine how well a brand performed on each of the CQ pillars, we also considered:


Strong examples from the past calendar year.


Unique examples that created headlines.


Numerous examples and instances; however, one headline-making example could supersede multiple standard mentions.

Discover the CQ


Next, we identified the strongest communities in the U.S. We found that communities are generally organized around one of three driving factors:

  1. Community of people: Family, friends, ethnicity, organized religion/beliefs
  2. Community of place: Where you live/come from, school, work
  3. Community of interest: Belief & values, lifestyle and entertainment

Within these three categories, we went deeper to discover which forces drive community formation in the context of 2020. To do this, we took into consideration American values, where people spend their time most, and where people are currently most likely to seek the feeling of belonging. 

After surveying dozens of communities, we identified the five strongest communities:








Finally, we analyzed other global brand rankings, and applied our in-house brand expertise to narrow down to a list of companies that naturally attach to communities most relevant to Gen Z and Millennials today.

We also took into consideration a brand’s relevance related to the major societal themes of 2020:


In a presidential election year, the Trump campaign dominated the narrative, exacerbating the polarization of the country’s two-party political system through extreme points of view and unprecedented use of social media. The influence was inescapable across every part of American life.

Racial justice

The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor sparked racial unrest and an American cultural reckoning. Issues of systemic racism and discrimination took prominence in the national discourse in the wake of nationwide protests, led primarily by Black Lives Matter.


COVID-19 impacted everything we have taken for granted – our freedoms, leisure, work, school, family and friends. As people around the world found new ways to connect, many companies reinvented “business as unusual” and doubled-down on corporate responsibility to create social cohesion.

The brands doing
community best

Icons to newcomers, consumer brands, social platforms and more—we ranked the community brands that dominated the year.

Belong Index 2020