Microsoft was the biggest loser in corporate brand power last year, and L'Oreal was the biggest gainer, according to the annual CoreBrand Corporate Rankings Index.
The index annually measures business leaders' perceptions of 1,200 companies by surveying 400 senior (VP and above) business executives across 49 industries.
CoreBrand's "Brand Power" scores are computed based on weighted, average rankings of both familiarity and favorability toward each company. Favorability includes perceptions of overall reputation, management and investment potential.
Microsoft's ranking among the Top 100 dropped by 21 places last year, from 38th to 59th--and it has lost 48 places since 2004, when it was ranked 11th.
"This drop is stunning," says James Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand, which specializes in corporate branding strategy. "In recent years, Microsoft's image has deteriorated from that of a young, hip organization to an old, stuffy organization. Their product releases have slowed, and the Apple Mac advertising making fun of PCs has also taken a toll." He adds that it will be interesting to watch whether Microsoft's series of new product launches will affect the brand positively.
Meanwhile, L'Oreal had the greatest gain in rankings last year--moving up 18 places, from 86 to 68. The brand has gained 46 places since 2004, when it ranked 114. Gregory attributes L'Oreal's gains--as well as those for Revlon and Estee Lauder--to focused investments in brand building in recent years. Revlon has gained 21 places since '04, including 12 last year--putting it in 39th place--while Estee Lauder has jumped 18 places, including 14 last year, putting it in 40th place.
Looking at the Top 10, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson retained their No. 1 and No. 2 positions, but Hershey Foods replaced PepsiCo in the No. 3 spot. In fact, PepsiCo dropped eight places, to rank 11th last year, and it has dropped six places since '04.
Harley-Davidson rose from sixth to fourth place, replacing UPS, which dropped to seventh. Hallmark Cards remained in the No. 5 position, Campbell Soup jumped from 10th to sixth, and Colgate-Palmolive rose from 12th to ninth. However, FedEx dipped from seventh to eighth.
Starbucks may have lost some its luster among consumers of late, but the corporate set still perceives it as gaining brand power, albeit more slowly. Starbucks rose three places last year to 10th place, and has risen by 12 places since '04.
Other notable winners and losers in 2007:
- Bayer continued a rapid ascent, jumping 10 places to 27th last year, and 29 places since '04. The brand's effective marketing of its preventative and life-saving properties in heart-attack scenarios has "clearly gotten it a lot of traction," notes Gregory.
- Corporate perceptions of MasterCard and Visa have been on the rise, and seem to be getting an additional boost from going public (MasterCard in '06 and Visa earlier this month). MasterCard rose nine places last year to 43rd, and has jumped 22 places since '04; Visa rose four places in '07 to 36th, and has gained 15 places since '04.
- Among automotive brands, Nissan is on the move, gaining 25 places since '04 and seven last year, to rank 61st--three spots above Ford (although Ford has gained 10 places since '04, five of those last year). Toyota has gained only two places since '04, but 14 of those occurred last year, giving the brand a ranking of 14. Other continuing gainers include Honda (up 15 since '04 and five last year, to rank 20th); BMW (up 12 since '04, five in '07, to rank 16th); and Volvo (up 12 since '04, four in '07, to rank 30th). GM lost two places in '07, to rank 24th, although it's up 14 places since '04. Mitsubishi lost one place to rank 99th, but has gained 39 places since '04.
Among retailers, Home Depot lost five places last year (to rank 54th) and 34 since '04, while Wal-Mart lost eight last year (to rank 32nd) and 11 since '04. But Bed, Bath & Beyond jumped 26 places during the past four years, including seven last year, to rank 41st.
- Brands that have ascended quickly include Verizon (up 52 places since '04, four in '07); American Greetings (up 42 since '04, two in '07); Boeing (up 36 since '04, seven in '07); Toshiba (up 32 since '04, 10 in '07), Chevron (up 28 since '04, five in '07); Goodyear (up 28 since '04, two in '07); Bausch & Lomb (up 21 since '04, five in '07); Fruit of the Loom (up 17 since '04, 12 in '07); and Mattel (up 16 since '04, two in '07).
- Brands that have dropped fast include Nestle (down 52 places since '04, nine in '07); Kraft Foods (down 49 since '04, four in '07); Whirlpool (down 46 since '04, including 12 in '07); Sara Lee (down 38 since '04, four in '07); Maytag (down 31 from '04, two in '07) and Motorola (down 24 since '04, 11 in '07).