It's one thing to effectively talk oneself into the "green" game, but that can backfire if the company doing the talking isn't doing the walking. Toyota is doing both well. In a first-ever "Best Global Green Brands" study by Interbrand, Toyota comes in first. Second place goes to 3M, with Siemens, Johnson & Johnson and Hewlett-Packard rounding out the top five.
The study attempts to go beyond consumer perception of environmental corporate cognizance and action to distinguishing between actual performance and perception.
The firm says the foundation of the ranking is the 2010 Best Global Brands report, since the brands involved has a global presence. Study findings suggest that green brands consistently are involved in green activities that consumers find relevant, and follow profitable green practices across their organization.
"As corporate citizenship increasingly becomes the norm, green initiatives may be among the most visible and easiest to claim, and yet can be the most challenging to deliver performance against," said Jez Frampton, global chief executive officer at Interbrand, in a statement.
"We believe the strongest green brands lie at the intersection of performance and perception: their ability to build stronger connections with consumers as a result of actionable and credible environmental practices."
The study said Toyota was a leading example of making the environment a core management priority, while also engaging in a meaningful way with audiences around the world.
In terms of market segments, automotive and electronics lead both because they implemented sustainable practices, and also because they communicated their efforts effectively to the public.
Those that had gaps between performance and perception included L'Oréal, Nokia, and HSBC, all of which scored significantly higher in performance than perception.
McDonald's, GE, and Coca-Cola, on the other hand, all scored significantly higher in perception than performance.
The rankings are based both on consumer polls in the 10 largest markets (U.S., Japan, China, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, Spain, and India) and performance scores from Deloitte, which was hired to create an environmental "sustainability performance" methodology based on publicly available data.