The Good, The Bad and the Ugly !

In the Harris Poll’s 17th annual brand reputation report Amazon has reclaimed the top spot, which is the eighth consecutive year the on-line retailer has made it into the top ten. Not surprisingly Volkswagen fell to the bottom of the report.

“Corporate America take note: the majority of US consumers are seeking information about your practices, and in some cases, rejecting companies they interact with because of what they learn,” says Sarah Simmons, Senior Reputation Consultant at Nielsen, owners of the Harris Poll.

Simmons added “Putting muscle behind messages that support your reputational equity with the public has never been more important.”

Indeed the biggest risks to corporate reputation are lying or misrepresenting facts about a product or service, or intentional wrongdoing or illegal actions by corporate leaders; both scenarios were cited by 80 percent of those Americans who participated in the survey. Other risks to reputation damage include security or data breaches (74 percent), product recalls due to contamination that may cause illness (66 percent) and unfair workplace conditions and culture (64 percent).

The top ten corporate reputations are in the order named: Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, Walt Disney, Publix Super Markets, Samsung, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Kellogg.

Following Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen reputation declined steeply, dropping 20.5 points overall from a “very good” (75.21) score in 2015 to a “very poor” (54.75) rating in 2016. Volkswagen also fell more than 25 points on emotional appeal and 20 points on social responsibility. It isn’t known what impact, if any, the scandal has had on other automotive brands within Volkswagen Group such as Audi, SEAT and Skoda . It has certainly adversely impacted both the Volkswagen Group share price and market share as deliveries dropped in Germany and the 4 percent according to European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

Volkswagen Logo blog

VW Group Share Price


The Harris Poll Brand Reputation Quotient (RQ) measures companies’ reputation strength based on the perceptions of more than 23,000 Americans across 20 attributes, classified into six reputational dimensions:

  • social responsibility
    • emotional appeal
      • products and services
        • vision and leadership
          • financial performance
            • workplace environment


As well as seeking the opinion of the general public each company in the study was also rated by “Opinion Elites”, a segment who are more aware, engaged and involved in current affairs. When we look at the data in this way the report shows that UPS, Costco, Coca-Cola, and BMW enjoy better reputations among the Opinion Elites than with the public at large.

Almost 75% of Opinion Elites say they investigate corporate behavior before buying and more than 53% of the general public indicated they proactively seek information about the companies they do business with. Fully 57 percent of Opinion Elites and 37% of the general public say they’ve decided not to do business with a company because of something they discovered about how that company conducts itself.

Sarah Simmons, senior reputation consultant at Nielsen, owners of the Harris Poll stated “Best-in-class companies demonstrate that corporate reputation matters – to your customers, employees, potential hires, business partners and investors,” “Not only does it matter, but corporate reputation is critically important to measure and understand in the context of your company’s business goals.”

“A positive reputation can provide competitive advantages and help your company achieve its objectives while a poor one can obstruct your ability to execute against your business plan.”


You can read the full Harris Poll results here

First published by Adrian G Stewart here

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

About adriangstewart

Senior executive with expert knowledge of all aspects of strategic marketing and a track record of creating sustainable competitive advantage. International management and leadership experience in both B2B and B2C organizations. Specialties:Strategic marketing management including; new product development, product life cycle management, business relationship management, market segmentation, marketing information systems, e-commerce and social media marketing.
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