A lot can happen in 10 years.

For example, over the last decade, millennials grew up, becoming the largest global generation in the workforce and the most influential consumer segment.

Technology has enabled more connectivity than ever before, with the Internet of Things permeating into our homes and changing the way we live, work, and buy.

“Fake news” proliferated (both perceived and actual fake news), activating the need for people to be as scrutinous as ever, and damaging the perceived credibility of many information sources.

Concern around data security and cyber security also increased, and our personal information is now both a potent currency for innovation and source of legal threat.

The state of the planet has become a source of growing alarm. Awareness of the climate crisis has become a top-of-mind priority, and companies have been asked to be more sustainable.

A crisis of any kind can be known more quickly today than it could 10 years ago. Thanks to new media channels like social media, their reach is more global and their impact can be deep and costly.

But, while change continues to be a constant, reputation remains as relevant as ever. We have seen this play out as the narrative has shifted from shareholder value to stakeholder value, from profits to purpose.

In a decade of innumerable transformations, the most reputable global companies of 2020 deliver a lesson in what it takes to remain relevant.

10 years of reputation

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our Global RepTrak study. For the last decade, we’ve measured what drives corporate reputation by asking the informed general public to share their perceptions of leading global brands across 15 markets. Our intention every year has been to learn from those companies that are getting it right.

So, what is there to learn this year? For starters, when overall scores dropped in 2018 for the first time in five years, we talked about a decline in trust toward large organizations. But over the last two years, we seem to be on the path toward reputational recovery.

In the 2020 study, the top 100 companies secured stronger reputation scores overall than in 2019 by .8 points. This may not seem like a big lift, but it’s significant—a third of the companies in the top 100 increased their reputation over the last year, and only 11 declined.

Further, a distinctive feature of the 2020 list is that companies that have increased their reputation score have done so by enhancing perceptions of the three pillars associated with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)—Governance, Citizenship, and Workplace.

Some leading companies have secured their place at the top of the ranking year after year, which speaks to the resilient effect of securing a strong reputation internationally. In fact, there was considerable stability among the companies that made it to the top 100 this year, with an 82% overlap between those that made the list in both 2019 and 2020.

That said, there were some notable changes in the composition of the top 10 list itself.

The Top 10 Most Reputable Global Companies of 2020

The top 10 most reputable global companies of 2020 are all brands with long histories. If we zoom into the traits of each individual company, we can start seeing how each brand is delivering against consumer expectations in a way that is genuine and sustainable over time.

1. The LEGO Group – Denmark After landing at number two the last two years, this year’s most reputable company takes the top spot for the very first time. Impressively, the LEGO Group has landed among the top 10 for 10 consecutive years, due in large part to the excellent quality of its products, as well as its dedication to education, sustainability, and social impact.

2. The Walt Disney Company – U.S. The Walt Disney Company has also secured a place among the top 10 for the last decade. Like LEGO, Disney is an iconic brand that exercises rigorous brand consistency while also innovating—in the past year, it evolved when it launched a successful streaming media channel.

3. Rolex – Switzerland The ultimate symbol of elegance and sophistication, Rolex’s distinctive brand is recognizable anywhere in the globe. Aside from having the appeal of a luxury brand, Rolex gets credit for a timeless product and for its leadership in the industry.

4. Ferrari – Italy A new addition to the top 10 this year, Ferrari has a remarkable emotional connection with global consumers—not to mention best-in-class products, services, and innovation. And, with its recognizable horse iconography, 60% of the public considers Ferrari to have a distinctive brand.

5. Microsoft – U.S. Microsoft is the epitome of a global company delivering against all reputation drivers. It stands by its innovative products, is a socially and environmentally responsible industry leader, and is seen as a reputable global employer. In addition, Microsoft gets more credit for its corporate purpose than most companies in the top 100 do.

6. Levi Strauss & Co. – U.S. Levi Strauss & Co. jumped from number 13 to number 6 this year, demonstrating that heritage brands can enhance their reputation over time. Levi’s largest year-over-year increase was in the area of citizenship, which is consistent with its clear stand on social issues like gun control and environmental issues like responsible water use.

7. Netflix – U.S. Netflix has moved up the global ranking for the last three years, driven by enthusiastic buy-in around the service it provides and the innovation that fuels it. The company also gets credit for operating its business with ethical behavior.

8. Adidas – Germany Adidas is another iconic brand, but aside from having great products, it gets more credit in for its workplace and governance than other competitors in its industry. Adidas is known to invest highly in sustainability, which translates into a strong global reputation.

9. Bosch – Germany Bosch, a company whose appliances and tools can be found in many homes around the world, is viewed as a corporation that delivers excellent products and has a positive impact on society.

10. Intel – U.S. Consumers don’t typically have strong connections to B2B. But in 2020, Intel closed that gap with the general public. The company is viewed as innovative, well-organized, a good employer and a leader in global data security.

What makes a company reputable?

Have the ingredients to a strong corporate reputation really changed in the last decade? The broad answer is no.

What drives reputation among the top 100 most reputable companies globally in 2020 has held remarkably stable for the last 10 years. Products and Services continues to be the most important driver, particularly regarding the quality and value of a company’s offering.

Next in importance is the Corporate Governance of your firm and third is its Citizenship. Scores across these three drivers account for 50% of a company’s reputation. This was true 10 years ago and remains true today.

Reputation drives action

It’s worth noting that when a company has an excellent reputation, it can prompt consumers to take supportive action. For example, according to respondents in the 2020 Global RepTrak study, companies with an excellent reputation activate the following behaviors from consumers:

  • 78% willingness to buy (vs. 9% when reputation is poor)

  • 70% willingness to work for (vs. 11% when reputation is poor)

  • 64% willingness to give benefit of the doubt (vs. 7% when reputation is poor)

The top 10 most reputable companies in 2020 demonstrate that successful reputation management is a balancing act of doing and saying the right thing.

These organizations warn corporate leaders of the existence of a large proportion of the population that sit on the fence, and highlight that reputation risk should be a concern even among those that seem secure.

But they also continue to demonstrate that a strong reputation translates into strong support and favorable business outcomes.

Stay tuned for more information about the top 100 most reputable companies. But for now, to learn more about the top 10 companies ... CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR 2020 GLOBAL REPTRAK INFOGRAPHIC

Isadora Levy Corbella Director of Marketing Insights The RepTrak Company ilevy@reptrak.com