How to Earn a Strong US Corporate Reputation – in an Era of Disruption

 

ReputatiHow to Earn a Strong US Corporate Reputationon is perception – it’s an intangible concept. But these intangibles underscore political and socio-economic macro-trends that directly impact corporate successes and failures.

 

This year, reputation scores have decreased across the global corporate landscape—the global reputation bubble has burst with its sharpest decline since the Great Recession. The atmosphere is no different in the US with an average 3-point decline vs. 2017 and some of the biggest shakeups we’ve seen to date:

  • Only seven of 100 companies have an excellent reputation
  • Six new companies join the top 10 this year; 36 debut in the top 100
  • Company ranks changed by an average of 27 spots

There is a great deal of disruption this year, but it is worth noting that the top-ranked companies are those that have stood the test of time. They are reliably comforting companies that elicit feelings of nostalgia and, dare we suggest, trust — a key asset that is sorely lacking in today’s current US corporate, economic, and political environment.

Here’s what we know for certain: companies with the highest reputation scores typically share the following — CEOs who take a stand on often controversial issues, strong commitments to corporate social responsibility, dedicated sustainability campaigns, transparency in decision-making, admirable leadership, and positive workplace cultures.

There is no specific roadmap on how to become a top-ranked reputation leader in the US, but there are best practices to learn from the companies who did it in 2018.

 Top 10 US Companies with the Best Reputation

1. Campbell Soup Company [NYSE: CPB]

CEO, Denise Morrison

New to the top 10 list and landing in the number one spot is the Campbell Soup Company. Driven by a dedicated corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, Denise Morrison, President and CEO, is committed to delivering a product that is guided by purpose. Campbell’s “Real food that matters for life’s moments” campaign has grown to build continued consumer trust with a focus on being a transparent health and well-being food company. The What’s in My Food resource shares Campbell’s food ingredients, how the food is prepared, and where they stand on issues that matter.

Campbell’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 82.2 (Excellent)

2. Nike, Inc. [NYSE: NKE]

CEO, Mark Parker

“At Nike, we believe it is not enough to adapt to what the future may bring—we’re creating the future we want to see through sustainable innovation.” – Mark Parker, President and CEO.

Nike’s sustainable innovation campaign stands apart in that the company actively invests in disruptive innovation.

Nike is also innovative in the way it communicates with its audience. Last year Nike sponsored three elite marathoners who tried to break the two-hour mark. A National Geographic documentary was made about the race and the event received 2 trillion social media impressions.

Nike RepTrak® Pulse Score: 82.1 (Excellent)

3. Bose Corporation

CEO, Philip W. Hess

Privately held Bose Corporation was founded in 1964 and is best known for home audio systems, speakers, and headphones.

Bose dedicates much of its marketing message to presenting why things are “better with Bose” – better sleep, better sustainable products, and a better environment. The company’s continued emphasis on customer stories, communities, and engaging culture contributes to its reputational success.

Bose RepTrak® Pulse Score: 81.7 (Excellent)

4. Barnes & Noble [NYSE: BKS]

CEO, Demos Parneros

Barnes & Noble has the largest number of bookseller retail outlets in the US. It was originally founded in 1886. Known for its community involvement, Barnes & Noble has managers dedicated to outreach programs, author appearances, and local schools to promote literacy and arts.

Barnes & Noble RepTrak® Pulse Score: 81.3 (Excellent)

5. Kellogg Company [NYSE: K]

CEO, John A. Bryant

With too many brands to list, the Kellogg Company has overcome significant challenges in recent years – cereal recalls, questionable nutritional value, and other accusations. The company has risen above by taking a proactive stance on key issues and its reputation soars thanks, in part, to its nutritional transparency, focus on diversity and inclusion, and an extensive corporate social responsibility program.

Kellogg’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 81.2 (Excellent)

6. The Hershey Company [NYSE: HSY]

CEO, Michele Buck

The massive chocolate manufacturer may serve up tasty candy, but they are also dedicated to helping veterans succeed through a robust career program. Their “treats with transparency” platform keeps customers informed about ingredients through smart product labels and sourcemaps. And the company has been helping children in need for more than 100 years.

Hershey’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 81.0 (Excellent)

7. Hallmark Cards, Inc.

CEO, Donald H. Hall, Jr.

Hallmark is the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the US and is also involved in television with the Hallmark Channel.

Hallmark recently released a Gender Pay Gap reported that openly shares where those gaps are, offers clear explanations, and steps for moving forward. Both transparent and innovative, this type of reporting demonstrates that leadership is focused on making Hallmark a place where people can feel included and want to work.

Hallmark’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 80.4 (Excellent)

8. The J.M. Smucker Company [NYSE: SJM]

CEO, Mark T. Smucker

Consistently rated as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in the United States, the leadership at J.M. Smucker Company devotes a great deal of its energy to driving purpose through culture. This is apparent in its hunger relief efforts, support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, commitment to community, culture, the arts, and even family pets!

Smucker’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 79.4 (Strong)

9. Canon, Inc. [NYSE: CAJ]

CEO, Fujio Mitarai

Canon, Inc. is the only non-US-based company to snag a top-10 spot in the US RepTrak® this year, and the only other company to also be listed in the top 10 Global RepTrak®.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Canon has a long history of enacting innovative environmental initiatives. The company’s ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility is evident in its annual sustainability report, and more specifically, through its Bird Branch Project and Action for Green environmental activities.

Canon’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 79.4 (Strong)

10. Amazon [NYSE: AMZN]

CEO, Jeff Bezos

Amazon is holding on to this year’s number 10 spot, although it did move a bit from #1 in 2016 and #2 in 2017.

The company’s focus has shifted to performance and it is perceived as a profitable company. While this is good in some respects, Amazon has slipped in the areas of Workplace, Citizenship, and Governance. Amazon is also taking heat from the President of the United States whose negative tweets aligned with dips in Amazon’s stock price.

Amazon’s RepTrak® Pulse Score: 79.2 (Strong)

View Reputation Institute’s complete list of the top-ranked 100 companies with the best corporate reputations in 2018.

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