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The Reputation Institute (RI) is out with its annual US RepTrak 100 study, which looks at the 100 US companies with the best reputation, putting Netflix at the top of the list for the first time.

Like last year, the organization says, it isn’t a good time for corporations: “For the first time in a long time, less than half of the U.S. population trusts corporations—that is core to why reputation didn’t recover much,” says Brad Hecht, senior managing director of the Americas at RI. “Companies haven’t done enough to build trust, that benefit of the doubt that even when no one is looking, they will do the right thing. That is the difference between the U.S. and other countries.”

Netflix, Forbes writes in its coverage of the list, “has positioned itself on the right side of scandal more often than not. Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in the way Netflix navigated its #MeToo moment. After allegations of sexual assault were made against Kevin Spacey, the company found itself at a crossroads: It could carry on, continuing to spotlight one of its biggest stars on one of its biggest series, or it could do the right thing. Netflix chose the latter, and that made all the difference.”

In addition, the story says, “Netflix hasn’t shied away from reinventing itself. Evolving from DVD deliverer to streaming service to content creator, Netflix produced more than 800 original films and series in 2018 alone, giving subscribers plenty of motivation to choose it over its main competitors, Amazon Prime and Hulu.”

Other tech companies haven’t fared so well, largely because of concerns about their approaches to issues like privacy and transparency; Amazon fell out of the top 10, to # 54, a drop perceived as reflective of CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal controversies.

Albertsons Companies makes the list for the first time, at # 46 - just behind Kroger and one ahead of Publix. Aldi is # 81. Walmart is not on the list.

Forbes points out that “Albertsons’ efforts to be tech-forward through its partnership with Microsoft, and its commitment to sustainability, is paying off.  Albertsons now has a strong reputation and its innovation and citizenship scores have increased by 10.6 pts and 7.7 pts, respectively.”
KC's View:
This shows that reputation can be a delicate thing, and should be something that companies think about all the time. Generally speaking, the best way to burnish one’s reputation is to do the right thing for the right reasons.

Not to oversimplify, but I think sometimes companies overthink this stuff … sometimes unanticipated events have an unexpected impact … and sometimes personal behavior by business leaders impact the businesses with which they are associated.