Forbes recently reported on a recent study of the most reputable corporations in America. The list of leading companies included many which consumers would expect, but the results also shed light on the critical importance of a brand’s perceived image.

Conducted by the Reputation Institute, the study surveyed more than 4,500 consumers about their views on the largest 150 companies with which they were familiar. Each organization earned a score based on consumer feelings about the company in four indicative areas: trust, esteem, admiration, and good feeling. The study also analyzed “the seven dimension of corporate reputation” including workplace, governance, citizenship, financial performance, leadership, products and services, and innovation.

Interestingly, the study found that perceptions of the enterprise are often becoming more important to customers than the actual product or service being sold. The Reputation Institute noted that consumers today are increasingly interested in factors such as social responsibility, corporate governance and company transparency.

In today’s market, consumers’ emotional connection to a brand can have very real effects on its reputation and bottom line. Word of mouth is far and away the most powerful marketing tool, and can be amazingly helpful or detrimental to a company’s success.

As this research clearly shows, creating and communicating a positive narrative for a company is more critical than ever. Companies today must earn the trust and respect of consumers in order to succeed, and effective communication is key to accomplishing this essential goal.

The most reputable companies included:
1. Walt Disney Co.
2. Intel
4. Kraft Foods
5. UPS
6. Johnson & Johnson
7. General Mills
8. Deere & Co.
9. Coca-Cola Co.
10. Dean Foods

Check out the Forbes article to view the full list of the most (and least) reputable companies in the U.S.