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Google: Most Admired--And Teflon Company?

Apparently, privacy concerns and investigations by the European Union don't count for much: Google has the best reputation of any company in corporate America, according to a new report from Harris Interactive. Last year's number one company was Berkshire Hathaway, which falls to number four in this year's online survey of about 30,000 Americans.

Johnson & Johnson came in second for the second year in a row. Of the 60 companies about which Harris conducted in-depth research, AIG, BP and Goldman Sachs got the worst scores.

How Google Got There
Google ranked among the top five in all but one of the six categories that Harris considers key to a company's reputation:

  • vision and leadership
  • financial performance
  • workplace environment
  • products and services
  • social responsibility
  • Google didn't make the top five on the sixth metric, 'emotional appeal.'
Given that Larry Page is off to a bumpy start as Google's new CEO and that Google stock is up only slightly over the past year, it's fairly amazing that the company still ranked second in vision and leadership and first in financial performance.

Here are the ten companies with the best reputations, according to Harris Interactive:

  1. Google
  2. Johnson & Johnson
  3. 3M
  4. Berkshire Hathaway
  5. Apple
  6. Intel Corporation
  7. Kraft Foods
  9. General Mills
  10. The Walt Disney Company
And here are the ten companies with the worst reputations:
  1. AIG Delta Airlines
  2. BP
  3. Goldman Sachs
  4. Citigroup
  5. Chrysler
  6. Bank of America
  7. General Motors
  8. ExxonMobil
  9. JPMorgan Chase
  10. Delta Airlines
AIG and Citigroup were also on the list of 'most improved' companies for this year, but because their reputations were so horrible, they land at the bottom of the list even after accounting for a big improvement. Other companies that also managed to burnish their reputations last year were General Motors, Chrysler, and Whole Foods.

Whole Foods is the only company for which an improved reputation did not also lead people to say they were more willing to buy the company's stock, although 24 percent said they'd recommend Whole Foods' stock to someone else. got the highest ratings for customer service. Johnson & Johnson scored highest for ethical standards.

Are these rankings well-deserved? Which company do you admire the most? Or think is the worst?


Image courtesy flickr user Robert Scoble
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and consultant. Follow her on twitter at