The strongest corporate brands endure, even in difficult times. That’s the major lesson to be drawn from CoreBrand's 2008 Corporate Branding Index, which once again ranked The Coca-Cola Company first and Johnson & Johnson second. The top two companies have held on to those positions since 2004.
Harley-Davidson moved up one place to third, replacing Hershey Foods, which is now fourth. Campbell Soup moved up one spot to fifth place, replacing Hallmark, which is now sixth on the list. UPS remained unchanged in seventh; Colgate-Palmolive moved up one spot to eighth, replacing FedEx, which is now in ninth; Kellogg rounded out the top 10..
Of the top ten, only Kellogg Company (10th place) has shown significant growth rising from 15th in 2007 and from 21st place in 2005.
"The current economic crisis is not a brand crisis," says James Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand. "Corporate brands remain strong in the face of the downturn. However, some strong brands are being run over by the economy because brands are not stronger than the underlying financials of a corporation. For example,. GE has a relatively strong brand but has significant financial exposure so the brand is hurting."
In 12th place, and moving up quickly, is BMW, which held 16th place in 2007 and 28th in 2005. Other big winners in the Brand Power Rankings are Bayer, which moved into 17th place from 27th in 2007 and 45th in 2005. St. Jude Medical has moved up steadily to 28th in 2008 from 59th place in 2005, although Gregory says it is unclear what is driving St. Jude's growing brand power.
Visa and MasterCard have both moved up steadily since 2005. Visa is now 23rd up from 36th in 2007 and 44th in 2005. MasterCard is 31st up from 44th in 2007 and 57th in 2005. American Express is in 11th place this year up from 13th in 2007 and 16th in 2005.
Toiletries and cosmetics companies also continue to see improvements. Revlon has rallied steadily from 61st place in 2005 to 33rd in 2008. L'Oreal has progressed steadily from 89th place in 2005 to 52nd in 2008. Likewise, Estee Lauder has shown big gains moving up from 60th in 2005 to 34th in 2008.
Starbucks had a notable loss as it dropped from 10th place in 2007 to 14th place in 2008, driven by publicity focused on store closings and competitive pressures. PepsiCo has also been dropping at an alarming rate from 4th place in 2005 to 11th place in 2007 to 18th place in 2008. And General Electric is losing steam dropping from 12th place in 2005 to 17th place in 2007 to 24th place in 2008.
Other major losers are Procter & Gamble, which has dropped steadily from 31st place in 2005 to 39th place in 2008. General Motors has also dropped steadily from 30th place in 2005 to 41st place in 2008.
The Corporate Branding Index is based on a research study among business decision makers in the U.S., and is based upon the "familiarity" and "favorability" of these business decision makers toward the corporate reputation of these companies.