Joan Jett famously sang that she’s never gonna care about her bad reputation, and good for her. But it’s different with giant companies. Since 1999, Harris Poll’s Reputation Quotient research has quantified the reputation ratings for the 100 most visible companies.
In 20-minute interviews, more than 4,000 Americans are asked for their opinion on which major companies have the best (and worst) reputations. The responses are distilled, and an RQ score developed for each company. The maximum score is 100, though in reality, the highest score given this year was 83.22. (Nobody’s perfect, after all.)
And Joan Jett aside, reputations do matter. They help companies recruit and retain good employees and project an image to would-be customers about whether they are the kind of businesses with whom they’d like to spend their money.
We reveal the top 35 companies below, beginning with No. 35 and working up to a very familiar No. 1.
You may see this South Korean electronics giant’s name on your television, washing machine or even your smartphone.
Reputation Quotient score: 77.56
USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association, but don’t confuse it with AAA. From its start as an auto-insurance company for members of the military, USAA is now a diversified financial-services group, but you still may know them best for the insurance they offer.
RQ score: 77.78
Swiss food-and-drink company Nestle makes everything from candy and cereal to pet food.
RQ score: 77.90
The computer world has changed enormously since IBM dominated it in the 1960s, but Big Blue is still going strong.
RQ score: 78.04
Japanese conglomerate Sony has a hand in everything from movie-making and music to electronics and gaming.
RQ score: 78.06
30. General Mills
Sure, you know that General Mills served up your Lucky Charms cereal, but the Minnesota-based company also markets an impressive portfolio of other food brands, from Betty Crocker to Häagen-Dazs.
RQ score: 78.13
Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, but Apple Inc., the computer company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, is still ripening. Apple Watches, iPhones and iPads are just some of the company’s famous tech products.
RQ score: 78.56
Google’s search engine may be the first product many people think of, but don’t forget the multinational technology company has Gmail, Google Docs, the Google Chrome web browser and many more tech products.
RQ score: 78.60
27. The Coca-Cola Co.
The Atlanta-based corporation wants you to have a Coke and a smile — but if you’d like something besides cola, they have it covered. The global beverage company’s portfolio includes 500 brands in more than 200 countries, from Powerade sports drinks to Ayataka green tea.
RQ score: 78.77
Even if you don’t like to drink Coke, the product can be useful. Check out: “46 Amazing Uses for Coca-Cola.”
26. The Home Depot
Homeowners know the orange facade and gigantic aisles of The Home Depot only too well — where else to go when you need to construct, remodel or repair everything from a cabinet knob to a leaky shower?
RQ score: 78.78
25. LG Corporation (South Korea)
The smiley face on the logo of South Korean conglomerate LG belies a complex business. The company makes everything from electronics to chemicals, and employs more than 200,000 workers.
RQ score: 78.92
24. Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway may be best known for its CEO, Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett, the third-wealthiest person in the world. Buffett’s multinational conglomerate holding company wholly or partially owns many famous brand names, from Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom to Geico and Helzberg Diamonds.
RQ score: 78.97
23. Whole Foods Market
Jokes about its “Whole Paycheck” nickname aside, Whole Foods Market remains one of America’s favorite places to buy organic groceries. Now that it’s owned by Amazon, customers with Amazon Prime accounts can utilize special deals and discounts.
RQ score: 79.04
Home-improvement chain Lowe’s operates more than 2,300 home improvement and hardware stores and employs nearly 300,000 people.
RQ score: 79.27
Media-services provider Netflix got its start in 1997 by mailing out DVDs for rental, but now it focuses more on home streaming, and even makes top-notch shows and movies of its own.
RQ score: 79.30
20. Procter & Gamble
Ohio-based Procter & Gamble, or P&G, specializes in a wide range of cleaning agents and personal care and hygiene products.
RQ score: 79.32
19. Honda Motor Co.
Cars may be Honda Motor Co.’s most famous product, but the Japanese company also makes aircraft, motorcycles and power equipment.
RQ score: 79.60
18. The Kroger Co.
Need groceries? The store you shop at may be Kroger-owned, even if that’s not the name on the outside of the building. Kroger operates more than 2,700 supermarkets and other stores in 34 states.
RQ score: 79.67
Washington state-based Costco operates members-only warehouse club stores known for enormous quantities of items. If you’re stocking a day care pantry, or need enough mustard to open your own ballpark, this is where you shop.
RQ score: 79.78
16. The Boeing Co.
There’s an old company slogan that says: “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going.” Chicago-based Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers, and it designs and manufactures everything from planes to rockets and missiles.
RQ score: 79.80
15. L.L. Bean
Maine retailer L.L. Bean specializes in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment, and it’s famous for its handcrafted waterproof boots.
RQ score: 79.83
14. Kellogg Co.
From Frosted Flakes cereal to Pop-Tarts toaster pasties, food-manufacturing company Kellogg’s helps set America’s breakfast table.
RQ score: 80.00
13. The Kraft Heinz Co.
Kraft Foods and Heinz merged in 2015 to create the giant food company known as Kraft Heinz.
RQ score: 80.15
This Portland, Oregon, company gives us no excuse but to “Just do it.” Nike sells athletic shoes, apparel and sports equipment for high performance and fashion.
RQ score: 80.24
Co-founder Bill Gates has moved on to philanthropy and his Gates Foundation, but the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. continues to develop and sell computer software, consumer electronics and related services.
RQ score: 80.42
Discount supermarket chain Aldi has more than 10,000 stores in 20 countries, so if there isn’t one near you now, just wait.
RQ score: 80.43
Campers and hikers know California-based Patagonia well. The company makes sustainable outdoor clothing and gear.
RQ score: 80.44
8. Publix Super Markets Inc.
Publix is a supermarket chain with more than 1,100 locations, mostly in the American Southeast. The birthday cake-shaped water tower at its Lakeland, Florida, headquarters is a state landmark — its candles even light up at night!
RQ score: 80.81
United Parcel Service is a package-delivery and global-logistics chain, with a goal of getting you what you need when you need it.
RQ score: 81.12
The initials in this Texas-based grocery chain’s name stand for Howard E. Butt, the son of the store’s original founder. There are more than 350 locations in Texas and northeast Mexico.
RQ score: 81.14
5. The Walt Disney Co.
From theme parks and merchandise stores to its famous movies, the Walt Disney Co. did more than wish upon a star to find success in the entertainment and mass media world. It grew from its 1923 founding as a cartoon studio by brothers Walt and Roy Disney into the world’s largest independent media conglomerate in terms of revenue.
RQ score: 81.53
To some, the fast food chain Chick-fil-A is best known for its chicken sandwiches. To others, it’s famous for the strong religious beliefs of its late founder, S. Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist, who decided early on to close all locations on Sundays. There’s also been controversy over the chain’s involvement with groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
RQ score: 81.68
3. Tesla Inc.
Tesla, founded in 2003, is one of the most recently founded companies to make the list, and the company most famous for its electric cars and the batteries that power them drove almost straight to the top of the rankings.
RQ score: 81.96
Some shoppers treat their grocery store as simply a place to provide them with essentials, but Wegmans shoppers adore their stores. Fans online rave about everything from the high-quality produce and the friendly employees to the breathtaking birthday cakes they produce.
RQ score: 82.75
Topping the list is online behemoth Amazon, which once only sold books, but now has become the go-to online store for everything from Halloween costumes to hair products. As the arrow in its logo indicates, it can get you anything from A to Z.
RQ score: 83.22
Do you think the companies listed here deserve their rankings? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.