Risk & Compliance

American Corporate Reputations Fall

Fully 71 percent of survey respondents rated the reputation of U.S. companies as ''not good'' or ''terrible.''
Stephen TaubDecember 6, 2005

The overall reputation of U.S. companies fell in 2005, according to a new survey conducted jointly by Harris Interactive and the New York-based Reputation Institute and reported by The Wall Street Journal.

This year, 20,000 U.S. adults evaluated companies they were familiar with on 20 attributes that measure emotional appeal, financial performance, quality of products and services, social responsibility, vision and leadership, and workplace environment, according to the Journal. There are 60 companies in the final ranking.

Fully 71 percent of survey respondents rated the reputation of U.S. companies as “not good” or “terrible,” compared with 68 percent in 2004, reported the paper. One major criticism among respondents was that companies didn’t help enough after this year’s natural disasters, especially Hurricane Katrina.

Not surprisingly, the companies with the best reputations are among the most recognizable consumer brands. At the top is Johnson & Johnson, which has taken first place every year since the survey began in 1999, followed by Coca-Cola, which moved up from third place in 2004. Both of these companies are more than 100 years old, so they have had plenty of time to hone their image.

That said, ranking third is seven-year-old search-engine-company Google, which millions of people have come to rely on every day in ways they never could have imagined only a few years ago.

As a group, technology companies made the most impressive showing. They received positive ratings from 71 percent of survey respondents and were credited with providing innovative, reasonably priced products that enhance respondents’ daily lives, the Journal reported. Other tech companies in the top 10 included Sony, Microsoft, and Intel, the paper added, noting that IBM and Apple also moved up in the rankings this year.

Most industries fell in the rankings, especially the automotive, airline, pharmaceutical, and energy industries. At the bottom: tobacco.

The lowest-ranked individual companies are not too surprising, since most have recently been embroiled in scandals. They include Enron., MCI (formerly WorldCom), Adelphia, and Tyco.

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