The Annual RQ 2006 study conducted by Harris Interactive(R) measures the corporate reputations of the most visible companies in the United States. According to this year’s Annual RQ(SM) survey, Microsoft jumps seven places over last year to rank No. 1 with a Reputation Quotient(R) (RQ(SM)) score of 80.74. Johnson & Johnson ranks second with an RQ score of 80.44, and 3M ranks third, with an RQ score of 80.09.

The Wall Street Journal published these results in its feature article “How Boss’s Deeds Buff Firm’s Reputation” on January 31, 2007 and included the list of the “60 Most Visible Companies” in the United States. The study, conducted by the Harris Interactive Brand and Strategy Consulting Group, evaluates companies along six key dimensions that comprise a company’s corporate reputation: vision and leadership, social responsibility, emotional appeal, products and services, workplace environment and financial performance.

This year, the Annual RQ further examined some subgroups of the general public — in particular influentials* and general investors* — to determine their views of corporate reputation. The research demonstrates that influentials’ view of corporation reputation and which companies are excelling and which are not differs from the overall results. The company rankings, based only on influentials’ scores would have shifted the rankings to Microsoft remaining at number one, but followed by the 3M Company, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Google, UPS,, Whole Foods, Coca-Cola and Toyota in the top ten. Influentials tend to be more pessimistic about the state of corporate reputation today with 53 percent saying it has declined versus 44 percent of the non-influentials saying the same.

The rankings by general investors alone would have been very different as well. General Mills would be number one, followed by Google, 3M, Toyota, Microsoft, J&J, P&G, Coca-Cola, Intel and UPS.

According to Robert Fronk, Senior Vice President for the Brand and Strategy Consulting Group at Harris Interactive, “Sixty-nine percent of respondents rated the reputation of corporate America as either ‘good’ or ‘terrible’. 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, 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.”

For complete results to this study and previous RQ studies, go to

Annual RQ 2006 Corporate Reputation Scores for the 60 Most Visible Companies

Base: All Adults

Rank in 2006 Company RQ Score 2006 RQ Score 2005
1 Microsoft Corporation 80.74 78.11
2 Johnson & Johnson 80.44 80.56
3 3M Company 80.09 78.78
4 Google 79.81 79.52
5 The Coca-Cola Company 79.52 79.69
6 General Mills 79.38 78.03
7 United Parcel Service (UPS) 79.07 79.37
8 Sony Corporation 78.58 78.75
9 Toyota Motor Corporation 78.14 77.27
10 The Procter & Gamble Company 77.99 75.91
11, Inc. 77.66 NA
12 Whole Foods Market 77.58 NA
13 The Walt Disney Company 77.49 75.88
14 Honda Motor Co. 77.26 75.60
15 FedEx Corporation 76.69 77.79
16 Intel Corporation 76.36 77.27
17 Lowe’s 75.86 NA
18 Home Depot 75.34 76.50
19 General Electric Company 75.25 73.39
20 Costco 75.14 74.03
21 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 74.68 NA
22 Apple Computer 74.59 70.59
23 Dell, Inc. 74.22 75.73
24 PepsiCo 73.88 75.26
25 Nike 73.73 72.11
26 IBM Corporation 73.56 73.42
27 The Boeing Company 73.52 73.10
28 Starbucks Corporation 73.25 72.93
29 Southwest Airlines 72.92 73.21
30 Target Corporation 72.64 71.83
31 Nordstrom 71.97 NA
32 Best Buy Co. 71.93 69.74
33 Unilever 71.74 70.28
34 American Express Company 71.48 NA
35 J.C. Penney Company 71.45 68.81
36 Wells Fargo & Company 69.81 NA
37 Verizon Communications 69.43 67.01
38 Hewlett-Packard 69.14 69.44
39 Merck 69.01 64.07
40 Wal-Mart Stores 68.28 69.99
41 Sears Holdings Corporation 67.64 65.26
42 State Farm Insurance 67.55 NA
43 Bank of America Corporation 67.55 66.00
44 SBC Communications 66.83 66.67
45 Citigroup Incorporated 66.69 65.00
46 AT&T Inc. 66.60 62.37
47 McDonald’s 66.43 66.83
48 Time Warner, Inc. 65.57 63.85
49 DaimlerChrysler 65.22 64.47
50 Royal Dutch/Shell 64.22 59.45
51 Allstate Corporation 64.16 65.82
52 BP 63.97 NA
53 Chevron Corporation 63.42 62.46
54 Sprint Corporation 62.88 61.01
55 Ford Motor Company 62.74 66.14
56 Altria Group 62.58 61.62
57 General Motors Corporation 62.50 66.07
58 Comcast Corporation 61.49 62.08
59 ExxonMobil Corporation 60.65 59.57
60 Halliburton Company 52.48 52.22


The Harris Interactive(R) corporate reputation study was carried out in two phases: a nominations phase, which occurred in July and August, 2006 and a ratings phase, which occurred from September 21 to October 23, 2006.

In the nominations phase, Harris Interactive conducted 7,886 interviews throughout the U.S. using a combined online and telephone methodology. The online respondents were randomly selected from the Harris Interactive online panel of multimillion members. All respondents were asked to nominate two companies that they feel have the best reputations overall and two companies that they feel have the worst reputations overall. Nominations were open-ended and all responses were tallied, placing subsidiaries and brand names within the parent company.

By totaling the mentions for best and worst companies provided during the nominations phase, Harris Interactive identified the list of 60 most visible companies in the U.S. to be measured in the ratings phase.

In the ratings phase, 22,480 respondents were randomly selected to complete a detailed rating of one or two companies with which they were “very or somewhat familiar.” All interviews were conducted online. Respondents rated companies on 20 attributes in six key dimensions which comprise the Harris Reputation Quotient(SM) (RQ) including, products and services, financial performance, workplace environment, social responsibility, vision and leadership, and emotional appeal. After the first company rating was completed, the respondent was given the option to rate a second company.

Each of the 60 companies was rated by at least 279 people; the average number of respondents per company was 596. All data were weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult (aged 18 and over) population. Weighting variables for this study included demographic variables (i.e., age, sex, education, race, ethnicity, household income and region), and some nondemographic variables to project findings to the U.S. adult population.

Finally, reputation quotient (RQ) figures were calculated for each company to determine the rankings. Each company’s RQ is based on the respondents’ ratings of each company on the 20 attributes. RQ scores are calculated by summing the ratings on the individual RQ attributes, dividing by the total possible score (i.e., 7 x the total number of attributes answered) and multiplying by 100. The highest possible score is 100. In comparing any two RQ scores, a T-test was used to determine statistically significant differences at a confidence level of 95%.

* Respondents qualified as influential if either of the following were true: they are very knowledgeable or somewhat knowledgeable of the company they were rating AND consider themselves very informed or informed of the company they were rating AND have voted in the last Presidential election. OR the have participated in at least three of the following advocacy activities:

— Written or called any politician at the state, local, or national level
— Attended a political rally, speech, or organized a protest of any kind
— Attended a public meeting on town or school affairs
— Held or run for a public office
— Served on a committee for some local organization
— Served as an officer for some club or organization
— Written a letter to the Editor of a newspaper or magazine or called a live radio or TV show to express an opinion
— Signed a petition
— Worked for a political party
— Made a speech
— Written an article for a magazine or newspaper
— Been an active member of any group that tries to influence public policy or government

To be considered a general investor a respondent must have long-term financial services investments other than simply a 401(k).