Here’s A List Of The Least Despised U.S. Brands

On Wednesday, AdWeek ran an article titled, The Best Perceived Brands of 2013It was a recap of a recent YouGov Brand Index survey that “measures consumer perception of brands by asking consumers if they’ve heard anything negative or positive about them and assigns a score ranging from 100 to -100 by subtracting the negative from the positive feedback.”  Here’s a look at the top brands courtesy of a AdWeek graphic:


Now here’s what I find fascinating. Everyone one of the top saw a year-on-year decline in brand perception. And these are the cream of the crop! On average the Top 10 brands dropped nearly 7 points. Put another way, the Top 10 brands averaged a score of a little over 26 points. The 6.9 average drop amongst them from 2012 represents a more than 25% decline in brand perception.

If I follow the methodology correctly the Top 10 are receiving roughly three negative pieces of feedback for every positive one. Nike, the darling of every marketing case study has a score of 16.5. What in the world is going on here?

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong culturally. The would appear to be a massive gap between how brands would like to be perceived and the reality of the situation.  If the scores are any indication, there isn’t a magic bullet solution here either.

Dissecting the Top 10 is a fascinating exercise as well. You’ve got old, traditional brands like Ford, V8 and Cheerios right next to Amazon and YouTube. Media outlets like History Channel and brick and mortar locations like Lowe’s.  If I were to take a stab at it, I think all 10 are perceived as providing value, or empowering people in some way. Take control of your health (Walgreens, Subway, V8, Cheerios), DIY (Lowe’s, YouTube), on-demand (Amazon, Kindle). Ford and History channel are interesting. They both are a nod to nostalgia, perhaps even patriotism on some level, but neither brand feels stuffy or out of date.

It would be worth a deeper dive to see if there aren’t some other insights that can be derived from this survey.





  • Sam Liebeskind

    “If I follow the methodology correctly the Top 10 are receiving roughly three negative pieces of feedback for every positive one.”

    I don’t think that’s what the data’s saying. I think a score of 31 (Amazon’s score) means that (assuming for arguments sake a sample size of 100 people) 65 people surveyed had recently heard something positive about the brand while 34 had heard something negative. (65-34 = 31)

    Very different.

    Also check out this one: . This list includes the biggest movers, many of which are ‘now less despised’ brands (Goldman Sachs jumped from (-22) to (-12)) but are still ‘despised’. Interestingly, American airlines turned the corner, going from (-7) to (4).

  • Rick Liebling

    Thanks for the note Sam, you’re no doubt correct on the methodology. While I certainly don’t expect brands to be scoring in the 80s, it still seems like the volume of negative perceptions is high. I suppose the interesting bit is in the year to year change, where even the brands with the best scores seem to be headed in the wrong direction, As you pointed out, it’s also interesting to look at brands slowly creeping into the positive side of things.

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