YouGov BrandIndex released its rankings of the best perceived QSR brands for the first half of the year and, once again, Subway tops the list.

The chain is a buzz leader for the third year in a row, and has kept up its image as a healthier option through the promotion of its "Fresh Fit meals" in a January Super Bowl commercial. Subway also just launched its summer campaign with an "Avocado Love" spot.

Wendy's is No. 2 on the list, for the second consecutive year. Moving up a spot to No. 3 from last year is Pizza Hut, while KFC and McDonald's broke into the top five after being absent in mid-2012. They were likely boosted from new product launches such as the Original Recipe Boneless Chicken and the Chicken McWraps, respectively.

Falling out of the top five to make room for those two brands were Papa John's, which was No. 3 last year, and Chick-fil-A, which was No. 5.

Despite the addition of KFC and McDonald's, they were not the top buzz improvers this year. Those honors went to:

  • Green Burrito: From January to June 2013, the CKE Restaurants' brand had a 0.2 buzz score improvement, compared to -0.5 during the same period last year;
  • Rubio's: This brand was up 0.7 compared to 0.2 last year;
  • Hardee's: Another CKE Restaurants' brand, Hardee's turned in a 0.1 score improvement;
  • Carl's Jr: The sister chain of Hardee's and Green Burrito was No. 4 on the improvers' list.
  • Church's Chicken came in at No. 5 on the top buzz improvement list.

The top QSR brands were rated using YouGov BrandIndex's Buzz score which asks respondents, "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"

The Buzz Rankings chart shows the brands with the highest average Buzz scores between January and June 2013. The Buzz Improvers chart ranks the brands with the highest increase in Buzz between January to June 2013 and January to June 2012. Both scores are representative of the general population.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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