Findings Underscore Importance of Authenticity in Building Good Reputations
6/29/21 – – Each year, Axios and Harris Poll team up to rank the reputations of the 100 most visible brands in America. The 2021 survey, released last month, reported some very interesting results.
Completing the Axios Harris Poll ranking is a two-step process. First, the general public is surveyed, unaided, to determine the 100 most visible brands in America. Then a new set of respondents is asked to rate the reputations of those 100 brands based on seven variables: affinity, ethics, growth, products/services, citizenship, vision and culture.
A company can feel good about making it into the top 100 (based on high-visibility), but be disappointed when it ends up at the bottom of the list (based on reputation).
Here’s this year’s top 10:
- Honda Motor Company
- Tesla Motors
Two names among these most-respected brands jump out at me: Patagonia and Chick-fil-A. Are you surprised to see these controversial brands so highly ranked? While both offer great products, you couldn’t find two organizations with more incompatible politics and cultures. And neither is shy about expressing strong societal beliefs, even when a significant portion of the public is turned off by their positions.
So what does their presence in the top 10 tell us about reputation?
I believe it’s further evidence that authenticity is highly admired, even in (or maybe especially in) today’s divided, toxic political environment. Patagonia and Chick-fil-A unapologetically express and live their beliefs. There’s an important lesson here for CEOs and companies choosing to enter the minefield of political activism. Before you take a step, make sure you are willing and able to sustain your commitments.
The bottom 10 are also interesting, but less surprising:
91. My Pillow
95. Wells Fargo
99. Fox Corporation
100. The Trump Organization
As the saying goes, these companies/brands “have issues.” And in most cases, their reputational challenges reach well beyond political activism. They have much work to do. We’ll see where they rank in next year’s poll.