Does it matter how the public views a company? Does the reaction to its name drive sales of its products or services higher or lower? Brand experts have considered this question for decades. The results are not conclusive. Well-known brands like Facebook are often poorly regarded by the public, yet it has over 2 billion people on its social network. Its stock market value is close to $1 trillion. Chick-fil-A often shows up as one of the best-regarded brands, yet it is among the smaller fast-food chains. In addition, it has been embroiled in controversies over its anti-LGBTQ stances.
The Harris Poll is one of the oldest, most widely regarded polling companies in America. It has done a company reputation survey every year for decades. Recently, it began to do the same poll in tandem with media company Axios. The findings for the 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 have been released. According to the methodology, 42,935 Americans were surveyed. It involves a two-step process. The first is to find companies that it calls “top of mind,” an equivalent of what most people would call best known. It then asks another, smaller set of people about their impression of those companies that made the first list. The impression is measured across seven metrics: citizenship, ethics, culture, trust, vision, growth, and products and services.
One of America’s largest banks stood out as the worst. Wells Fargo received a score of 63 out of 100, which put it six spots from the bottom of the Harris list. Only the Trump Organization, Sears, Wish.com, Facebook and Fox were below it.
Wells Fargo has been battered by scandal for years, with the worst starting in 2017 when it created as many as 3.5 million fake accounts so that employees could improve their compensation. In 2018, the Federal Reserve punished the bank by restricting the rate at which it could grow. Wells Fargo mistakenly foreclosed on homes later in the year. Management became a revolving door. The fact that many of these problems are three years old shows how difficult it is for a company to salvage a horrible reputation.
Incidentally, at the bottom of the list of 100 companies, with a score of 56.9, is the Trump Organization. This is the business arm of many of the former president’s commercial operations. Almost the entire portfolio of assets held by The Trump Organization is real estate, ranging from golf courses and hotels to residential and commercial buildings. Again, an odd conclusion. While Trump may be abhorred by much of the nation, 74 million people voted for him and he still holds sway over the Republican Party.