NEW YORK: Coca-Cola has emerged as the most respected brand in the US, according to the second annual survey of the country's top 100 brands from CoreBrand, the strategic consultancy.

The soft drinks giant was tied in first place with rival PepsiCo in last year's Brand Respect report and, although Coca-Cola has now edged ahead, both brands have declined in favourability as consumers have become more health-conscious.

Based on information from 10,000 business decision-makers from the top 20% of US companies, CoreBrand compiled its rankings by identifying the top 100 brands that had the highest familiarity and then measured them for their favourability.

Brands with both high familiarity and favourability were defined as the most respected while those with low favourability, such as Delta Airlines, were ranked as the least respected.

IBM, Apple and General Electric entered the top ten for the first time, CoreBrand said, although it suggested Apple might be held back by perceptions of its future management following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of IBM and General Electric in the top ten could be a sign that US consumers are regaining respect for traditional companies as the economy improves, the report suggested.

CoreBrand listed the top ten US brands as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Hershey, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Harley-Davidson, IBM, Apple, Kellogg and General Electric.

Joining Delta Airlines in the ten least respected brands, the report named H&R Block, Big Lots, Denny's, Best Buy, Rite Aid, J.C. Penney, Capital One Financial, Family Dollar Stores and Sprint Nextel.

CoreBrand CEO Jim Gregory said high respect for a brand is "essential in assessing the foundations of a company's future" because it instils trust among consumers and key stakeholders.

"The respect a brand has earned, and can keep, speaks directly to its overall valuation and acceptance," he said, adding that the least respected brands should work to realign perceptions in order to enhance their image.

Data sourced from CoreBrand; additional content by Warc