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Big brands fail the brand resilience test in our Critical Conditions study

6th November 2017


Almost half of Fortune 500 companies fail the ‘brand resilience’ test, causing millions of dollars of reputation damage, according to new research published today by Grayling.

The Critical Conditions research examines the brand search profiles of a cross-section of international companies from the Fortune Global 500, taking a look at the biggest issues that affect them, and using Grayling’s proprietary ‘GCore’ reputation management tool to determine the reputational health of their search spaces. In the realm of ‘too big to fail’ brands, do their digital and communications strategies culminate in an online space that is resilient?

  • Even among these well-resourced international businesses, almost half had negative content on the first page of their Google search profiles
  • Much of this negative content was old; the oldest story GCore found on page one of a company’s search profile dated back to June 2013   
  • The world’s biggest tech companies, while far from immune to negative issues, do the best job at keeping negative content off their page one search results, suggesting there are lessons for companies in other sectors. 

Grayling’s global head of strategic services, Jon Meakin says: “With NGOs, online activists and citizen journalists, as well as the fourth estate, holding businesses, politicians and others to account, you can forget the idea of negative stories being ‘tomorrow’s chip paper’. As our research shows, online, they can hang around forever. And that can have a real impact on a brand’s reputation and even value…”

Information access connects organizations with their audiences directly, but brings with higher expectations of corporate transparency and ethical behavior. Google search is the new reputation battleground, and any organization that places a value on its public image needs a proactive approach to the management of its search profile.

Critical Conditions assesses the issues and brand resilience of the top ten brands within the following sectors represented in the list of Fortune Global 500 companies, with additional analysis and context by an international panel of Grayling’s sector experts:

  • Up in the air: Why we love to bring airlines back down to earth
    • Jonathan Shillington, Managing Director Grayling Middle East, on how the risk to airlines of poor customer service is magnified through social media
  • Unwanted Side-effects: What healthcare companies should know about Google search
    • Sascha Nottmeier, on the critical scrutiny pharmaceutical companies face and the implication of potential issues on their search space
  • Taming the wolves of Wall Street
    • Tom Nutt, Head of Corporate Grayling UK, on how many financial institutions are still filling a villainous role, 10 years on from the global financial crisis
  • Hard to swallow: The dichotomy of food marketing versus reality
    • Julia Sturmfels, Associate Director Grayling Germany, on the everyman food expert and the paradox food brands face when marketing their products
  • Of hacks and tax… the Teflon world of tech
    • Alan Dunton, Managing Director of Grayling San Francisco, on why technology brands might garner an innate brand resilience online
       

The Critical Conditions research is part of Grayling’s ‘Advantage Series’, a research and insights program that addresses some of the major reputational, regulatory and communication challenges facing organizations today. Critical Conditions may be viewed at www.grayling.com.


Grayling Team

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