STAMFORD, CT: Microsoft has nosed Coca-Cola out of the No. 1 spot,
which it had held for three years, in an annual study of corporate brand
strength conducted by Corporate Branding.
The survey, now in its 11th year, asked more than 6,000 senior
executives in corporate America to rate major US brands.
Perhaps the greatest upset, however, is the absence of Procter &
The company had been steadily slipping down the table in recent years,
only to disappear altogether this year. Larry McNaughton, managing
director and COO at Corporate Branding, attributed the tumble to P&G's
lack of corporate branding activity.
'I think P&G could do more aggressive corporate communications or
corporate expressions of its brand,' he said, adding that the company's
present efforts center instead around brand-building for individual
Microsoft rated second in 1999's survey but moved into first in 2000,
switching places with Coke. Walt Disney Co. remained in third. Johnson &
Johnson and Harley-Davidson moved into fourth and fifth.
Because the annual study interviews corporate executives with VP or
higher titles, ratings normally revolve more around business
developments than would ratings done by the general public, McNaughton
For example, Coke fell from No. 1 to No. 2 the year after its major
consumer problems in Europe, and in the same year that it had gone
through major management changes. On the other hand, Microsoft endured
widespread coverage of its antitrust suit, yet corporate executives
still saw it as a dominant company with strong management.
A company's culture and behavior, its business processes and how it
expresses its brand in the marketplace are the three key determinants of
brand reputation, said McNaughton. For companies such as Coke or P&G
that deal in the consumer market, branding activity, including PR, is
more important than other factors. But for General Electric, which deals
with many business audiences, corporate culture and business processes
become more important, McNaughton continued.
The study produced few other surprises, since most major brands on the
Top 10 list remained there and saw only minor changes in their overall
'The folks we're talking to are really the people creating the economy
in the US and they're assessing these companies on business questions,'
The only new name on the list is Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up, although
McNaughton couldn't point to any major business developments to explain
The top ten for familiarity and favorability (on a scale of 1 to 100)
1. Microsoft - 76
2. Coca-Cola - 75
3. Walt Disney - 73
4. Johnson & Johnson - 72
5. Harley-Davidson - 71
6. Campbell Soup - 71
7. FedEx - 69
8. Hershey Foods - 68
9. General Electric - 68
10. Dr Pepper/7-Up - 66