Corporate reputation is fluid, mostly driven key actions, or inactions, but as with most things in 2020, this year was different. To answer the why behind the change, the Data Science team at RepTrak looked at how the seven drivers of corporate reputation changed across industries over the last twelve months. What did they find? It’s been anything but business as usual:

global driver shift v2

What we see in the graph above is the continuous shift of the individual importance of the 7 drivers in impacting reputation over the past twelve months. In recent years, the importance of a company’s Product has been stable in terms of its importance. What changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? For the first time a company’s Product had less of an impact on corporate reputation than in pre-pandemic years. In 2020 we see that Leadership and Workplace each gained a 1% point in importance, while Product lost 1% point in importance  

2020: A Wild Ride For Retail

Since the beginning of the pandemic, companies' ESG initiatives have been at the forefront of the public's mind, especially when it comes to the retail sector. What we see is that the way the public sees a company treating its employees, or its commitment to corporate governance has an outsize effect on its reputation and business outcomes, such as purchase intent and getting the benefit of the doubt. Usually for the public Workplace, has been the most esoteric driver of reputation (that is unless they are an employee of the company); the pandemic moved Workplace from the background to the foreground.

In the below bar race graph we see that in August 2019 Workplace was the least important driver of corporate reputation, but by September 2020 it was firmly in the middle:

2020 Wild Ride for Retail

As you can see from all the movement, Workplace’s importance in shaping reputation was in flux the whole year. In January Workplace was mid-level in terms of importance, but dropped to last in the early days of the pandemic. As areas began opening up in May, however, we see a sustained increase in the importance of Workplace in corporate reputation.

How Much Has Reputation Changed In Your Industry?

It’s never been more important to continuously monitor your corporate reputation. In a year where it feels like if something can go wrong, it will, which makes it more important than ever for companies to proactively measure and monitor their reputation and adjust their communications strategy where necessary.

How has your industry’s reputation fared in the pandemic? Click here to find out.