NEW YORK: Toyota, 3M and Siemens are the global brands boasting the strongest green credentials, a new study has argued.
Interbrand, the consultancy, surveyed 10,000 consumers worldwide, asking them to rate major brands based on criteria such as their authenticity, relevance and consistency in this area.
It combined the findings with an assessment of publically-available information discussing each brand's activity, analysing issues like their products, governance models, stakeholder engagement efforts and supply chain management.
Toyota, the automaker, led the rankings on 64.2 points, and received a score from consumers which was 7.6 points higher than that yielded by detailed scrutiny of its performance.
Alongside developing eco-friendly cars like the Prius, Toyota has outlined a range of goals from reducing carbon dioxide emissions to supporting afforestation and recycling.
Riki Inuzuka, managing officer of Toyota's corporate planning and research divisions, suggested this can deliver a variety of advantages.
He said: "We know that profitability is the result of our efforts. Another benefit is that we've also succeeded in winning the hearts of customers and society.
"Through this, we are able to reinvest our earnings in creating 'ever-better cars,' and by fostering this virtuous circle, we achieve sustainable growth."
3M, the conglomerate, was second with 63.3 points, followed by Siemens, the engineering group, recording 63.1 points, although both operators received lower totals from the survey panel than from Interbrand's analysis.
Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant, took fourth on 59.4 points, having recently launched a five-year plan seeking to encourage everything "community wellness" to cutting its carbon footprint.
"Today the world is facing a number of complex social and environmental challenges," said Bill Weldon, J&J's chairman and chief executive.
"Whether it's the private, public or nonprofit sector, we must all play a role, preferably in collaboration, to ensure a sustainable and healthy future for generations to come."
HP, the technology specialist, made up Interbrand's top five on 59.1 points, trailed by Volkswagen, the automaker, claiming 58.9 points.
Honda, another car manufacturer, was next on 58.9 points, ahead of Dell, which secured 58.8 points, and Cisco, on 57.7 points.
Panasonic, the electronics expert, completed the top ten, on 57.3 points.
"Panasonic is aiming to become a brand that leads the green revolution starting with consumers' lifestyles," Takumi Kajisha, Panasonic's managing executive officer, corporate brand strategy, corporate communication, advertising, corporate citizenship and CSR, said.
"Existing as part of customers' everyday lives, we will continue to provide people all over the world with enjoyable green lifestyles that offer even more comfort and peace of mind for the creation of a sustainable society."
One trend identified by Interbrand was that many big-name brands seemed to benefit from favourable perceptions simply by virtue of their scale.
Coca-Cola, for example, was awarded 19.6 more points by shoppers than the official assessment, and General Electric saw a gap of 23.1 points.
Dell, Cisco, McDonald's, Starbucks, Kellogg's and Ford were some of the other organisations where this figure reached double-digits.
"The importance of understanding how a brand behaves and how the marketplace perceives the brand on the measurement of environmental responsibility is paramount," said Tom Zara, Interbrand's global practice leader, corporate citizenship.
"Corporations are now looked to act in ways that reduce the sins of the past. They are expected and held accountable to innovate to make the Earth a better place."
Interbrand gave an in-depth preview of its brand valuation methodology at this month's MRS Advertising Research conference in London. Warc subscribers can read a full report of the presentation here.
Data sourced from Interbrand; additional content by Warc staff