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Netflix Ranks Among Simplest Brands, Despite Price Hike and Customer Anger

Google and Amazon among the other media and techology companies deemed simplest to use by U.S. consumers

Netflix's stock may have fallen far and fast after its controversial decision last year to raise prices, but U.S. customers still consider the streaming service to be among the easiest brands to use.

The home entertainment giant ranked fifth domestically, according to strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale's annual global brand simplicity survey. That's a drop of four places from last year when Netflix ranked as the country's simplest brand, but that's still an impressive hold given the subscriber defections that greeted the company's decision to raise prices on its most popular membership plan by 60 percent. Netflix's share prices once crested $300, but now trades for less than $70.

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But Netflix's Wall Street woes do not reflect its superior customer service, Siegel+Gale's co-CEO Howard Belk said.

"They do a lot more right than they do wrong," he said. "They may not be the No. 1 brand anymore, but they're still in a heck of a good position. Their core business model is extremely simple and its very customer and consumer friendly."

Before crunching the numbers, Siegel+Gale surveyed more than 6,000 people in seven countries on their perceptions of major brands. Companies were assessed based on how easy their products and services were to use, how clearly they were explained to customers and how effective they were at addressing consumers' questions and concerns when issues arose.

Globally, Netflix, which has only launched in a select group of foreign territories like the United Kingdom, was not as big a presence. However, there were a number of major entertainment and technology companies which can credit their bullish balance sheets to an easy consumer experience that spans the continents.

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Google and Apple, in particular, were winners both among U.S. and foreign consumers. Google once again ranked as the No. 1 simplest brand globally, with the study's authors praising the speed and efficacy of its search function and its simple user interface. Nationally, the search giant fell one spot to No. 3.

Less successful was Google+, the company's answer to Facebook. The nascent social network was slammed for having functions like Circles and Hangouts that are not intuitive and are difficult for users to understand.

Apple, another Silicon Valley giant, also retained its fifth place position globally, because of the deep brand loyalty its suite of i-products inspires in customers, the study said. Nationally, the company shot up 34 positions to seventh place.

Also ranking among the most consumer-friendly brands was Amazon. The e-commerce titan slid globally from second place to 12th, but nationally it dropped a single position to fourth place.

Belk believes there are certain traits that will keep this group of companies toward the top of his firm's annual rankings.

"They have simple value propositions and they deliver on their promise," he said. "Customers get what they were expecting and there is a direct link between clarity, transparency and performance."

That's a lesson companies like Groupon and European budget airline EasyJet would do well to realize. Both ranked toward the bottom of the list due to poor customer service or hidden fees. In those cases, customers weren't getting what they paid for.

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