The Top 50 Most Reputable Companies

Companies that are reliable, able to manage expectations, follow regulations and earn profits rank high on a new measure of reputation.

Methodology_ChartsAnother quality of reputational value is that it’s accretive. That is, reputation is less the result of stakeholder responses to good or bad headlines and more the outcome of managing ongoing expectations. Half of the companies on the Consensiv 50 list for October have been there for at least four or more consecutive months. A news search reveals little in the way of surprises for these companies. Many — including Diageo, J.M. Smucker, ADP, Linde, 3M, and Becton, Dickinson — are known for a commitment to process controls that help ensure product and service quality and safety. These drivers of reputational value don’t necessarily win awards but because stakeholders can appreciate and value them, they deliver reputations that are less likely to suffer a negative event. If they do suffer one, they have a greater likelihood of recovering more quickly and completely.

A third quality of the table’s reputation leaders is that many of them operate in industry sectors that have detailed regulatory requirements for business performance, such as companies in energy, minerals and health-care technology. This isn’t surprising, since third-party validation makes assessment of reputational value clearer and more reliable. Shire, for example, broke through the ranks to join this month’s Consensiv 50 league table. The expectations for the biopharmaceutical company’s future success are based on established and disclosed criteria for quality, safety and ethical behavior that are in large part required by law.

A final quality of reputational value revealed in this month’s table is that it’s operational and not a result of values being claimed or attached to it through a branding campaign. Out of the 18 companies that have been on the list every month this year, nine are in business-to-business industries and nine are in business-to-consumer industries, some of which, like Roper Industries, have not run a corporate image campaign in recent memory.

We believe reputation is better measured as the expectations of business performance and quality evidenced through the prices stakeholders are willing to pay, and the costs companies will incur to earn profits. A stark disconnect exits between the money that consumer brands spend on brand and identity and the resulting financially relevant measures of value. Reputation is a business metric not a popularity contest.

Jonathan Salem Baskin is managing director of Consensiv, a reputation controls firm. He is the author of six books and has written a regular column on CMO leadership for Advertising Age since 2008. Nir Kossovsky is chief executive of Steel City Re, a leader in corporate reputation measurement and risk transfer. He is currently a Trustee of Excela Health Systems, a community-based health care provider. His latest book is Reputation, Stock Price and You: Why the Market Rewards Some Companies and Punishes Others.

16 thoughts on “The Top 50 Most Reputable Companies

  1. I completely disagree! I booked a hotel room for 3 rooms paid in full a week before our vacation. The hotel doesn’t guarantee your stay even if its paid for if another client is willing to pay full price from their own website. Priceline would only comp us a room a half an hour away completely out of our way and into another State! I had to call 18 separate times, and 12 different reps before we finally got a room. I spoke with top supervising customer service people and never got an upgrade or a refund. I will never use Priceline again and I travel 3-4 times monthly.

    • Wendy, your story sounds horrible! Clearly, priceline.com did not live up to your expectations, and it has prompted you to vow to take the financially-relevant action of never giving it your business again.

      Our metrics are agnostic to anecdotes like yours. Instead, they track actions taken, not just by you and your fellow consumers, but every other stakeholder group priceline.com either serves or depends upon, thereby reflecting the answers to such expectations as: Do vendors expect it to pay on time, and behave in ways that allow them to make their margins? Do its insurers and lenders expect it to meet its obligations, and regulators expect it to obey the law? Do its employees expect it to provide them wages commensurate with their skills, and litigators expect it to successfully defend itself if and when it gets into trouble?

      And do other customers, even if burned in an experience as you described, ultimately return to priceline.com because they interpret the bad experiences as anomalies (or accept them in fair exchange for the market-beating pricing they get)?

      These myriad expectations have no explicit dimension of opinion. People can think whatever they like, but valuation of reputation — and risk thereto — is a measure of the financially-relevant decisions stakeholders make on expectations that can be objectively observed.

      Priceline.com didn’t top this month’s list because it’s the most liked brand, or even because it satisfied every stakeholder every time. It beat out approximately 7,200 other public companies we track in setting and them meeting the expectations of stakeholders in ways that yielded the most consistent, reliable, and valuable financially-relevant behaviors.

      Reputation is a metric of the quality of those relationships.

  2. Reliable from whose perspective? As an ADP client (#21 on this list) I find their appearance here laughable. We’re dropping them soon because they’re a dinosaur technologically, and this aging infrastructure creates significant and costly errors that ADP doesn’t own. Client service is hit or miss, many in client service are not knowledgeable, and their “account managers” only surface when it’s time to sell a client upgrade or cross-sell another service. Their failure to invest in the technology platforms that the other 90% of payroll service providers are using (aka this awesome new thing called the cloud) will only serve to further separate them as slow moving data hogs in the future. A system that requires a few hours to process a payroll that other cloud solutions can do in 10 minutes is ridiculous. I suppose if ADP can always be counted on to deliver mediocre products with untrained staff and take the longest route to do it, then they are reliably unreliable.

    • While your perspective is wholly valid, it isn’t representative of the broader market. Our reputational value metrics indicate that the bulk of ADP’s stakeholders both appreciate and value the company’s offering.

      Your comments about innovation illustrate an important point, which is that reputational value and risk can’t be understood (or acted upon by business leadership) as if the same governance criteria apply to every company. They don’t. Innovation is often touted as a virtue in the technology sector overall, yet it can be both fleeting (RIM/Blackberry) and risky (Boeing). The drivers of reputational value in ADP’s sector are (information) security, quality, and of course, ethics.

      ADP appears to meet expectations on those criteria, however imperfectly, with greater success than all but one of its competitors in its sector, and approximately 7,250+ public companies overall.

    • Your account manager here. I have great news. ADP Workforce Now 5 is cloud based and has been since version 1. It’s quick, reliable and the most adopted system in the industry with 40,000 clients. Service model is refreshed and is comprised of small teams, training is ongoing and customer service metrics are gathered and analyzed daily to ensure continual improvement. We’ve invested $1B in R&D over last 2 years and revolutionized our soultion and interface. Document cloud was just rolled out. Mobile app is top 10 downloaded business app. Dashboards are coming. Legacy platforms like the one you’re on are being migrated to Workforce Now as requested. I’ve left you voicemails and emails to set a meeting. Call me back so we can get you upgraded ASAP. :O)

    • Actually, ADP invests over $600 million / year into infrastructure and has a cloud system that is best in class already. It seems that you are just on an older platform or the size of your organization has changed recently and doesn’t match up to the offerings they have..

    • ADP has some legacy platforms that a lot of clients are currently utilizing and some refuse to come off because of how easy it is to use. Keep in mind that ADP was the first to bring in the web based solutions and true integration along all of its platforms and is always on top of their game when it comes to the services that it offers it’s clients. You should reach out to your local representative to talk to them about the new solution that is available to all clients. There are millions invested to all of the solutions they have. As far as service being hit or miss, again if you are on the legacy solution they have diffeent service centers. Moving to the Workforce Now 5.0 would give you a brand new service center and have a team of 15 employees that will be able to assist you on your first call. You need to get off of EasyPay and move to Workforce Now. I promise you that you will be impressed and scratching your head trying to figure out why you didn’t move sooner. Here is a link to the overview of Workforce Now and you can see other videos that have to do with the other solutions they offer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9ALDBh8cSo

    • This post is obviously a competitor planting outdated information. ADP is one of the largest SaaS provides in the world. I’ve worked there for 7 years and I’ve been a part of over 500 implementations. ZERO were server based.

  3. Wendy, your story sounds horrible! Clearly, priceline.com did not live up to your expectations, and it has prompted you to vow to take the financially-relevant action of never giving it your business again.

    Our metrics are agnostic to anecdotes like yours. Instead, they track actions taken, not just by you and your fellow consumers, but every other stakeholder group priceline.com either serves or depends upon, thereby reflecting the answers to such expectations as: Do vendors expect it to pay on time, and behave in ways that allow them to make their margins? Do its insurers and lenders expect it to meet its obligations, and regulators expect it to obey the law? Do its employees expect it to provide them wages commensurate with their skills, and litigators expect it to successfully defend itself if and when it gets into trouble?

    And do other customers, even if burned in an experience as you described, ultimately return to priceline.com because they interpret the bad experiences as anomalies (or accept them in fair exchange for the market-beating pricing they get)?

    These myriad expectations have no explicit dimension of opinion. People can think whatever they like, but valuation of reputation — and risk thereto — is a measure of the financially-relevant decisions stakeholders make on expectations that can be objectively observed.

    Priceline.com didn’t top this month’s list because it’s the most liked brand, or even because it satisfied every stakeholder every time. It beat out approximately 7,200 other public companies we track in setting and them meeting the expectations of stakeholders in ways that yielded the most consistent, reliable, and valuable financially-relevant behaviors.

    Reputation is a metric of the quality of those relationships.

  4. Jonathan – Just a quick note to commend your insightful responses to the comments that were posted. Good metrics are always thought provoking.

  5. I loved the closing line of the article, “Reputation is a business metric not a popularity contest.” We just finished a boot camp for new ventures and small businesses, and it reaffirmed that today’s leaders need to spend as much time on their core values as they do on their business strategy. While striving to build and maintain a sterling reputation may seem old fashioned to some, our TEN session on leadership forces entrepreneurs to think through what principles they hold dear and how they can incorporate them into business. This article shows the benefits of not only doing what’s right, but why it makes good business sense.

    • Jean, we couldn’t agree more! If companies spent more time operationalizing their principles and taking responsibility for communicating them effectively, they’d have a far better time establishing and sustaining their reputations. Our metrics reveal that valuation comes from the reality of financially-relevant decisions based thereupon, and not the imagined benefits of marketing or other creative inventions.

  6. Please withold my name. It seems moral and ethical considerations weren’t factored in to your analysis. If they had been, L’Oreal would not be in the top 1000 given their unapologetic practice of animal testing.

    • You’re absolutely right, moral/ethnical considerations are subjective, and they’re also indirectly related to behavioral outcomes, at best. Our metrics are purposefully not popularity or opinion polls (those are better left to the marketers); we’re interested in discovering reputational value and risk as evidenced by stakeholders’ financially-relevant behaviors, which can then be used as the basis for go-forward decisions by CFOs and other business leaders. A “good” reputation is one that commands higher premiums from stakeholders and, in the case of L’Oreal, its stakeholders seem willing to afford it that benefit…animal testing aside.

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