Microsoft Tops Corporate Reputation Survey

Each year, Harris Interactive conducts its “Annual RQ“—Reputation Quotient—survey, aimed at measuring the corporate reputation of the United States’ most visible companies. The study evaluates reps by conducting online surveys ask 600 American adults about the companies, quizzing them on twenty attributes grouped into six categories—vision and leadsership, emotional appeal, products and services, workplace environment, and financial performance. Some 22,480 partcipants rated companies, each randomly asked to complete a detailed rating of one or two companies with which they were familiar. Each company was rated by at least 279 people, with the average number of respondents per company running at 596.

And guess what? For 2006, Redmond software giant Microsoft came out on top.

“Sixty-nine percent of respondents rated the reputation of corporate America as either ‘good’ or ‘terrible’,” said Robert Fronk, Senior Vice President for the Brand and Strategy Consulting Group at Harris Interactive. “This context makes the significant RQ score increases among companies like Merck, Royal Dutch Shell, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, 3M and others that much more impressive. Corporations today need to measure, understand, and holistically manage their corporate reputation and leverage it as an asset. Those who do, find that ratings and rankings take care of themselves.”

“In the case of Microsoft,” Fronk continued, “we find a company that, while always scoring well in our annual study, there were certainly perceptual challenges regarding elements of its reputation,” Fronk continued. “By focusing on the root causes of these perceptions and not just imagery or messaging, they were able to achieve higher levels of credibility with the general public. These types of perception shifts are not accidental and the value is nearly immeasurable.”

Last year, Microsoft ranked seventh in Harris Interactives’s survey.

This year, Harris also separately tracked the opinions of so-called influencers and investors—influencers folks who ranked themselves as very famliar with companies they were rating and who either voted in the last U.S. Presidential election or participated in advocacy or various public policy activities, while investors were folks who had long-term financial holdings other than 401ks. Considered on their own, investors would have put General Mills in the top slot; influencers would have kept Microsoft on top but shuffled other enteries in the top ten.

Other interesting placements in the 2006 survey: Google landed at #4, Sony at #8, at #11, Intel at #16, Apple at #22, Dell at #23, Best Buy at #32, Hewlett-Packard at #38, Sprint at #54, and Comcast at #58.

Here are the 2006 Annual RQ rankings of 60 top United States companies:

Ranking Company 2006 RQ 2005 RQ % Change
1 Microsoft Corporation 80.74 78.11 3.37
2 Johnson & Johnson 80.44 80.56 -0.15
3 3M Company 80.09 78.78 1.66
4 Google 79.81 79.52 0.36
5 The Coca-Cola Company 79.52 79.69 -0.21
6 General Mills 79.38 78.03 1.73
7 United Parcel Service (UPS) 79.07 79.37 -0.38
8 Sony Corporation 78.58 78.75 -0.22
9 Toyota Motor Corporation 78.14 77.27 1.13
10 The Procter & Gamble Company 77.99 75.91 2.74
11, Inc. 77.66
12 Whole Foods Market 77.58
13 The Walt Disney Company 77.49 75.88 2.12
14 Honda Motor Co. 77.26 75.6 2.20
15 FedEx Corporation 76.69 77.79 -1.41
16 Intel Corporation 76.36 77.27 -1.18
17 Lowe’s 75.86
18 Home Depot 75.34 76.5 -1.52
19 General Electric Company 75.25 73.39 2.53
20 Costco 75.14 74.03 1.50
21 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 74.68
22 Apple Computer 74.59 70.59 5.67
23 Dell, Inc. 74.22 75.73 -1.99
24 PepsiCo 73.88 75.26 -1.83
25 Nike 73.73 72.11 2.25
26 IBM Corporation 73.56 73.42 0.19
27 The Boeing Company 73.52 73.1 0.57
28 Starbucks Corporation 73.25 72.93 0.44
29 Southwest Airlines 72.92 73.21 -0.40
30 Target Corporation 72.64 71.83 1.13
31 Nordstrom 71.97
32 Best Buy Co. 71.93 69.74 3.14
33 Unilever 71.74 70.28 2.08
34 American Express Company 71.48
35 J.C. Penney Company 71.45 68.81 3.84
36 Wells Fargo & Company 69.81
37 Verizon Communications 69.43 67.01 3.61
38 Hewlett-Packard 69.14 69.44 -0.43
39 Merck 69.01 64.07 7.71
40 Wal-Mart Stores 68.28 69.99 -2.44
41 Sears Holdings Corporation 67.64 65.26 3.65
42 State Farm Insurance 67.55
43 Bank of America Corporation 67.55 66 2.35
44 SBC Communications 66.83 66.67 0.24
45 Citigroup Incorporated 66.69 65 2.60
46 AT&T Inc. 66.6 62.37 6.78
47 McDonald’s 66.43 66.83 -0.60
48 Time Warner, Inc. 65.57 63.85 2.69
49 DaimlerChrysler 65.22 64.47 1.16
50 Royal Dutch/Shell 64.22 59.45 8.02
51 Allstate Corporation 64.16 65.82 -2.52
52 BP 63.97
53 Chevron Corporation 63.42 62.46 1.54
54 Sprint Corporation 62.88 61.01 3.07
55 Ford Motor Company 62.74 66.14 -5.14
56 Altria Group 62.58 61.62 1.56
57 General Motors Corporation 62.5 66.07 -5.40
58 Comcast Corporation 61.49 62.08 -0.95
59 ExxonMobil Corporation 60.65 59.57 1.81
60 Halliburton Company 52.48 52.22 0.50
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