New Zealand’s most reputable companies have shown their resilience through the COVID-19 crisis according to research released today.
Air New Zealand has continued its six-year reign at the top of Colmar Brunton’s Corporate Reputation Index 2020, a partnership with Wright Communications. TVNZ has moved up one place from last year to second, ranking highly for fairness and trust, with Pak’n Save coming in third, with the highest overall ranking for fairness.
Toyota, loved by Kiwis as their own, sits in fourth as the leading international brand with a top 10 reputation in New Zealand. The other brands in the top 10 are AA Insurance, Kiwibank, Fisher & Paykel, The Warehouse, New World, Countdown and Southern Cross – which is new in the survey and entering the top 20 this year.
The Head of Colmar Brunton Sarah Bolger said the annual Corporate Reputation Survey was conducted in December 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however an April read of New Zealanders show the top companies’ reputations are intact.
Wright Communications’ Managing Director Nikki Wright said Colmar Brunton’s polling during the COVID-19 lockdown showed many of the top performing brands were living up to their reputations as trusted leaders in their industries.
“Despite being put under extreme duress by the COVID-19 crisis, brands like Air New Zealand are able to maintain their outstanding reputation with New Zealanders because it they have built a reservoir of trust over a long time and the public perceive it is doing all it can to deal with the crisis responsibly and fairly,” said Ms Wright.
Ms Bolger said, “In COVID-19 language, corporate reputation acts like an extra layer of immunity. Without a strong reputation, there is potentially a chink in a brand’s armour. Those with lower immunity are more vulnerable when times are tough.
“New Zealand’s most reputable businesses have so far done well because they have the building blocks of a strong reputation which builds trust. Trust is needed in a time of crisis.”
Ms Bolger said the building blocks of reputation include:
- a strong sense of purpose – these companies know the impact they have on New Zealanders’ lives
- good leadership – they enabled New Zealanders to adopt behaviours that would support the Government’s measures
- fairness and responsibility – they have acted for the good of New Zealand citizens and their employees
- trust – they have behaved in a way that alleviates public anxiety
Ms Wright said responsibility – both social and environmental – was one reputation pillar that very few companies do well in. “Air New Zealand and Toyota, both of which have a relationship with the Department of Conservation, are exceptions.”
Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Alistair Davis who is due to speak at the Corporate Reputation online launch event today said he believed the reason Toyota consistently sits in the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation top five comes down to three ingredients – culture, purpose beyond profit and delivery.
“A company’s culture is made of thousands of strands, just like a ball of rubber bands. It is this culture that binds a company together – creates a shape, unity, sense of purpose.”
“Toyota’s purpose is not just about making money or staying number one. Our purpose is about leading the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. We are trying to build a sustainable future for personal mobility.
“The final ingredient is delivery. All the nice stuff counts for nothing if you can’t deliver. You have to deliver results for customers, shareholders, staff and society – every stakeholder. Execution counts. When it comes to innovation an ounce of execution is worth more than a ton of theory.”
Ms Wright said media relations was the most influential factor on the reputations of corporate brands with limited public interface.
“If you have a brand that is driven by media content it is very important you manage the narrative. You need to identify those aspects that enable your company to connect with Kiwis. You need to search out good stories to tell and find a way to tell them. Companies whose reputations are suffering from negative media coverage around particular issues need to say clearly and positively how they are addressing those issues.
“Companies which do the right things by the public and tell their stories well have resilience that enables them to ride out occasional setbacks and bad news. Conversely, companies that don’t consistently provide a great customer experience or communicate how they are dealing with their issues find their reputations suffer.”
Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index 2020 measures four pillars of reputation – responsibility, fairness, success / leadership, and trust. It uses the global RepZ framework, created by Colmar Brunton’s parent company Kantar, with standardised reputation attributes. It ranks the reputations of New Zealand’s top 50 consumer facing corporates by revenue as listed in the Deloitte Top 200 plus financial services brands.
Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index 2020 has 17 industry categories with brands indexed against major competitors in their category to remove industry bias. More than 20,000 New Zealanders have been interviewed over the last five years with an average sample size of 500 per category per year.