Brands Endure Court of Public Opinion


Public opinion surveys concerning companies and brands are interesting, but they need to be viewed in a current context. Such studies are, after all, a read on a snapshot in time, offering a perspective that could quickly change based on what a company does on any particular day.

Results were just released of one such study, in which 800 Americans were interviewed by Vision Critical and Angus Reid about their perceptions of over 50 major companies. The corporate reputation ranker shows that Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble are viewed as companies with the “strongest reputation” among U.S. consumers.

Interestingly, all three of these companies have endured (and, it seems, weathered) public criticism of late.[more]

Despite recent product recalls of children’s medicine, Johnson & Johnson topped the survey. Apple just faced a tech-related nightmare with the launch of iPhone 4. P&G dealt with consumer complaints about rashes supposedly caused by their new product, Pampers Dry Max. Nevertheless, all three companies were ranked as highly trustworthy.

Not all of the news was good, though. Almost one-third of the survey respondents “believed senior executives are more concerned about money” than the health of their businesses, and 30% of respondents thought American companies “put profits ahead of what is good for the United States.”

For its part, P&G recognizes the power of consumer opinion in brand acceptance. Marc Pritchard, the company’s global brand building officer, said at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival that companies need to listen closely to consumers.

“Cynicism and distrust of companies, governments and brands are at their highest,” said Pritchard. “People want to know more about what brands stand for and what they are doing for the world, not just for themselves. … Complete transparency is the expectation. … Consumers can and will find out what we care about, what we value, and what we do.”

Clearly, Pritchard has it right. But that’s a lot to live up to for many organizations. If profit is the strongest motivating factor, one wonders how well U.S. companies can deliver “complete transparency” and demonstrate “what they are doing for the world.”


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