Rolex Rises in Reputation Rankings

Business direction background with two people

Rolex, The Walt Disney Company and Google top Reputation Institute’s 2016 Global RepTrak 100, the world’s largest annual survey of corporate reputations. The RepTrak System measures the general public’s perception of the world’s top companies on the seven key rational dimensions of reputation: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance.

An “excellent” reputation is represented by an overall RepTrak Pulse score of 80 or higher. A RepTrak Pulse score of 70-79 is considered “strong,” while 60-69 is “average.” None of the companies in the Top 100 scored below 67.

“The Global RepTrak 100 shows that to be a winner in the global market, companies need to deliver on all seven dimensions of reputation,” said Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, in a news release. “The top three companies all demonstrated strong or excellent scores in each dimension, which means that consumers are more likely to buy and recommend their products and services.”

One notable absence from the RepTrak 100 is German automaker Volkswagen, whose reputation dropped by 13.7 points globally in the wake of an emissions scandal. VW earned a strong RepTrak Pulse score of 75 in 2015, good enough for 14th place on the Global RepTrak 100 that year, but dropped to an average RepTrak Pulse score of 61.3 in 2016, falling to 123rd position.

Across the seven dimensions of reputation, VW saw an average drop of 10.9 points, with the biggest drops in governance, citizenship and leadership. VW also saw a drop across all supportive behaviors, which underscores the impact of a company’s reputation on the business.

The top 10 companies in this year’s rankings are:

  1. Rolex
  2. The Walt Disney Company
  3. Google
  4. BMW Group
  5. Daimler
  6. LEGO Group
  7. Microsoft
  8. Canon
  9. Sony
  10. Apple

Consumers identified Rolex as the global leader in products and services, while Apple remains the global leader in innovation and leadership. Google earned top marks on performance and workplace, with The Walt Disney Company perceived as best in citizenship and governance.

Out of the 100 companies that made the list, only six companies managed to make their way into the top 10 across the majority of the markets. Rolex, which occupied the fourth spot in 2014 and 2015 but jumped to first place overall in 2016, ranks in the top 10 across 11 markets – the most out of all companies.

Microsoft returned to the top 10 in 2016 after a one-year absence, replacing Intel, which slipped to 11th place. Though it remains in the top 10, Apple slid from 7th place since 2014.

Download the complete list of Top 100 Reputable Companies.

Breaking Bad? Google Chairman Warns That Governments Could Effectively ‘Break Internet’

WIn a recent event hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Google Chairman Eric Schmidt offered an alarming prediction that governments, especially our own, could end up splintering the Internet into pieces. This, he argues, is because countries may prefer to operate their own Internet instead of allowing surveillance organizations, such as the National Security Agency, to collect data on their citizenry.

Wyden added that this would hurt American tech companies — and thus eliminate some American jobs.

Be sure to read the full National Journal article about these remarks, and watch the brief video featuring Schmidt’s comments.

Reviewing the New Age in Marketing

The old days of driving a purchasing decision solely through advertisements are over. Advertisers and marketers now have to combat what Google calls “The Zero Moment of Truth.” This moment transcends mere product placement and traditional marketing by representing the time between product introduction and product purchase. This time lag is now filled by readily available and increasingly popular online research and customer reviews.

Whether you are in the market for a local plumber, a new TV, a new car, a restaurant, a hotel or any other of the infinite products and services offered in the marketplace, it is no longer standard practice to act solely on the word of others. The Internet provides millions of bits of information on all types of products and services and heavily influences an increasingly higher percentage of purchases.

As business owners and marketers, we need to understand that our advertising and our name is no longer good enough to drive actual purchases. Sure, our reputation and catchy promotions attract interest and may even give us an initial jump on our competitors, but, in today’s marketplace, one lousy, negative or false review can diminish even the most polished advertising efforts and the sale is lost.

It is not practical to expect a flawless online record. If your business operates long enough, at some point someone will be unhappy with a product or service. That unhappy person may turn to the thousands of review boards that connect consumers all across the globe and publish some sort of unflattering remark directed at your business or your products. How do we monitor online review boards? How do we respond? How do we distance ourselves from bad reviews? When is it advantageous to consult an attorney or take legal action? How do we best protect our reputation online?

By now, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s what crisis communications is for.” A bad review is not a crisis and treating it as such will only amplify the reach and the effect of the review.  New age marketing has to include specific and strategic plans of action pertaining to the handling of negative reviews similar to the way traditional public relations efforts seek to put water over an impending fire. The knowledge, the plan and the execution of handling online reviews not only helps protect your brand, but it can create a competitive advantage, increase customer service efforts and silence defamers. Not all negative reviews are treated the same. Some should be directly addressed on a personal level, some should be strategically distanced from the company and some may need legal attention. Much like consumers, business owners and marketers need to do their research.

How Will We Watch TV in Several Years?

Gary Vaynerchuk is well-known on Twitter as a social media authority. He got his start as a wine expert (I believe), but snowballed his social media presence into some serious juggernautery (not a word, but I’m fine with it). In the above video, he offers his vision of how we’ll be watching television in a few years. Just thought it was interesting.

Microsoft Hopes to Help You Avoid the Nosy “Gmail Man”

After touting Google+ last week on this blog, it’s only fair that I also mention Microsoft’s efforts in its new Office 365 email program. According to PR Daily, the video below was shown by Microsoft at its annual global sales conference. Actually makes a pretty important point about personal privacy:

More on Google+: Why Fight It?

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is spend time setting up a social media account on yet another site. But this video from Epipheo makes a pretty good point: We use Google for just about everything else, so why fight this? I do like the practical idea of the circles — and am most amused by the concept of a "People I hate" circle.  

Granted, I’m as unhappy as you are about the seemingly monopolistic tone of all of this, but, on the other hand…..meh.

Google+ to Businesses: Hold Thine Horses

You’ve likely heard the Buzz (sorry for the unfortunate pun, Google) about the new Google+ social networking service. Some folks are already taking part in testing the new product, and if you’re interested, take a tour here. The big question now, at least for our purposes, is "How will this be used by businesses?" For the moment, Google is telling potential business users to hold off as they try to figure some things out. That is to say, if they were going to use a Guns & Roses song as a metaphor to the business community, it would be "Patience" — as opposed to "Welcome to the Jungle." (Sorry, that’s a reach, but always trying to reference Hoosiers whenever possible. So there’s your Axl Rose nod for the week.)

You can go ahead and try to register to be included in the business pilot run of the site by filling out this simple form. I’ve already registered the Indiana Chamber as a potential candidate. Fingers crossed, just anxiously hoping like a potential rose-receiver on "The Bachelor." I hope you’re happy, Google. I was once a man… I was once a man.

Mashable has more.

In the Cards: Ball State Thrives with Smartphone Technology

Indiana is truly blessed to have the many esteemed public institutions of higher learning that it does. Thanks to efforts from Indiana schools, men have walked on the moon, more people now survive cancer (ask Lance Armstrong) and our food is grown incredibly efficiently. But lest we not forget, the fine folks in Muncie are considered a national leader in the world of technology. Here is just one example:

Under the direction of computer science professor Paul Gestwicki students spent an entire semester developing several dozens applications for Google Android. The new smart phone operating system was launched in 2009 and quickly is proving popular with consumers as potential rival to the BlackBerry and the iPhone.

When they were done in fall 2009, 18 students with no computer programming experience had created a bird-watching program, several games, an English-to-Spanish tutoring system, math flashcards, and a Dungeons and Dragons character generator with Web-based database storage capability.

"This was an incredible experience because it opened new doors and new ways of thinking for all of us," says Travis Cawthorn, ’12, of Frankton, Indiana, majoring in accounting. "I created a game that should be fun to play with for hours. Let’s be honest, many students my age use smart phones for entertainment."

The class was part of an experimental partnership between Google and several technology-centered universities including Ball State, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Colorado, and University of Michigan.

Google provided the class with 20 G1 developer phones loaded with Google’s Android operating system and gave them access to the new App Inventor for Android, which makes it possible for users with no programming experience to create mobile applications.

And stay tuned for our September/October edition of BizVoice for my article on Ball State’s WiMAX test bed. The school’s work is helping America’s top companies perfect their wireless broadband technologies and rendering Ball State an archetype in the field.

Will Our Web Sites Become Obsolete? (Hold Me)

If you’re like us at the Chamber, you took rebuilding your web site very seriously. We assembled a team of enthusiastic, in-the-know folks from various departments, each of whom offered what they wanted to see on our new (as of 2008) web site.

Now, however, social media consultant Jay Baer contends on his Convince & Convert blog that thanks to Facebook, our web sites may not even be relevant much longer. He asserts:

Like print newspapers, basketball players under 6 feet tall, and the McRib sandwich, the website as we know it will soon be a thing of the past – a quaint reminder of the original Internet era.

Who killed the website? Facebook, of course.

Ironically, Facebook itself started as humble website. But, for all its foibles and fairytales, its growth and groan-inducing missteps, Facebook and its leadership have known for a long time that websites are yesterday’s technology – they are just now getting around to twisting the knife.

Do You “Like” Me in Attack Mode?
Facebook is waging a three-pronged war on websites. The first front is the battle of expectations. Here, the objective is to change the way we think about information exchange online. Historically, we read “Web pages”. Now, the move is toward “social objects” which are invariably smaller, more directed pieces of content. Like a fussy deconstructed salad at a downtown restaurant with ridiculous unisex bathrooms, Facebook wants us to publish in tiny bursts of words, pictures, videos, and single purpose apps, rather than the page-length containers and complicated databases of yore.

Incidentally, this is why Google is so afraid of Facebook. Google has made a couple of dollars by reading and ranking Web pages. If the standard unit of publication becomes something other than the page, but rather smaller social objects like status updates and photos being published and ranked in real-time, Google’s role in that equation is diminished.

Facebook took a major (yet curiously underreported) move in this direction last week, when they enabled companies to publish to Facebook members’ news feeds for anyone that has “liked” a Web page…

If You Can’t Beat Em, Should You Join Em?
I have said on this very blog that I was dubious about putting too many eggs in Facebook’s basket, because you’re essentially building your marketing program on rented land. And I still feel that way. The amount of control Facebook has (or will have) over the data and interactions on the global Web is truly unprecedented (and I trust them even less than Google). But, if your old house is abandoned and full of mice and cobwebs, a shiny new house – even on rented land – may start looking pretty inviting.

RIP websites. It was great while it lasted.

This is all very intriguing and a bit alarming. If this were to happen, I wonder what the time frame would be. Time will tell, I suppose. But please "Like" us on Facebook just in case.

Image is Everything in a Greener World

So who’s the greenest of them all? If perception is reality, then AdvertisingAge has the answer. This report illustrates who’s done the best job of being — check that — appearing to be the greenest companies around.

Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods lead the 2010 ImagePower Green Brands Survey’s list of top 10 U.S. brands perceived to be the greenest, with Aveeno and Microsoft joining the list this year. The fifth annual study also found that in the U.S., people are more concerned about the economy than the environment, while in developing countries, such as Brazil and India, the environment takes precedence.

Making the top 10 brands list in the U.S. after Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods were, in order, Tom’s of Maine, Trader Joe’s, Google, Aveeno, S.C. Johnson, Publix, Microsoft and Ikea.

The survey, released this week, was done by WPP companies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland in partnership with Esty Environmental Partners, a corporate environmental strategy consultant. They did online interviews from Feb. 27 to March 24 with 9,022 people in the U.S., Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, U.K. and, for the first time, Australia.

The survey found that more than 60% of consumers around the world said they want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. In the U.S., though, 35% of those surveyed said they plan to spend more on green products, down 4% from 2009. That reflects the U.S.’ focus on economic worries. "Almost 80% of the [U.S.] consumers said they were more concerned about the economy that the environment. That’s the highest of any other country," says Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer for Landor, San Francisco.

In developing countries, however, the split goes the other way. Of those surveyed in Brazil, for example, 72% were concerned about the environment while 25% cited the economy. "India’s got a split like that, too—59% and 32%," Meyer says. "It’s interesting to see. There’s a bit of a Western bias that the West is further advanced in thinking about sustainability. India, China—those economies are already on their way to mending, and not so in Europe and the Americas."