American brand reputations—Main Street topples Corporate America

by | Mar 22, 2018 | Public Relations

Amid today’s divisive political climate, Americans prefer brands that offer respite from chaos and that embody hearth-and-home values, according to the newly released 2018 Reputation Quotient (RQ) study from Harris Poll.

In the 19th annual RQ rankings, the top ten companies proved that consumers value brands that are standing by their values, building deep community relations, and fueling momentum in science, health and education—with Amazon earning an ‘excellent’ reputation for the 9th consecutive year.

The study identifies the 100 most visible companies identified by U.S. consumers and ranks these companies based on their reputation in six different categories: Emotional Appeal, Products & Services, Social Responsibility, Vision & Leadership, Workplace Environment, and Financial Performance.

American brand reputations—Main Street topples Corporate America

“This year, the RQ study revealed that socially conscious companies are thriving off of the division and dysfunction in government, and what we’re seeing is a new vanguard of corporate leaders taking an active role to solve societal challenges that government can’t or won’t,” said The Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema, in a news release. “We’re calling this a movement of ‘Big Ideals,’ where companies are rising above politics to focus on a pressing social challenge whether it be healthcare, transportation, or education.”

Amazon (#1) pledged to improve healthcare along with Berkshire Hathaway (#24) and JP Morgan Chase (#63), while Tesla (#3), launched their roadster into orbit for the world to watch online.

American brand reputations—Main Street topples Corporate America

In combination with these companies, others are weaving in their own strong value systems and beliefs into scale and influence over supply chains and ecosystems. Patagonia (#9), one of this year’s new entries on the list, created eco-friendly wetsuits and shared the patent publicly; Kroger (#18) offered anti-overdose drugs without prescription.

Despite being intrinsic to our daily lives and still having strong reputations, Apple and Google have both dropped out of the Top 10

Apple and Google fell from #5 and #8 on the list to #28 and #29, respectively. Apple’s apparent lack of innovation and Google’s workplace saga are likely causes of this reputation erosion.

Brands in the bottom ten this year include Goldman Sachs, Haliburton, Equifax, the Trump Organization and the Weinstein Company. In addition, Johnson & Johnson fell from #4 last year to #40 this year, marking its second time not in the top 10 in 18 years, proving that an iconic company still held in high regard with a very good RQ score is falling behind businesses taking an active role in marketing its value.

American brand reputations—Main Street topples Corporate America

“The RQ 2018 study reveals that consumers are increasingly interested in what a company stands for, how they engage with society and their community,” said Gerzema. “In this new world, reputation is a verb. Brands are emerging with a new moral authority––equal parts capitalist and activist––and are capturing the imagination of investors, talent and the buying public, while rewriting the rules of what a ‘public company’ truly means today.”

With a solid reputation, a company is more likely to attract top talent, be seen as an attractive investment, and viewed as a responsible member of the community. Alternatively, companies with a challenging reputation must work harder to achieve their business goals as stakeholders are more resistant to their growth.

Visit The Harris Poll website to access the full 2018 RQ Rankings and report summary.

This proprietary research model is uniquely designed to take the pulse of the public and understand how a company is perceived in modern culture. While other models measure reputation in a vacuum, the RQ starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies who either excelled or faltered in society.

American brand reputations—Main Street topples Corporate America

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter