NEW YORK: Google and Sony are the companies which have the best reputations with consumers around the world, according to a new study.

In researching its new report, the Reputation Institute, the consultancy, aimed to ascertain opinions about the 600 largest corporations in revenue terms held by residents of their home markets.

Consumers in 24 countries, ranging from the US and Brazil to Spain and South Korea, were then asked to provide their views of the 54 best-regarded firms, collectively delivering 181,000 individual ratings on a 100-point scale.

The criteria against which the businesses concerned were rated included their products, service, innovation, social responsibility and leadership.

Google, the search giant, led the way on 78.6 points, having been credited for its financial strength and its development of popular platforms from Google Maps to communications tools like Gmail and Orkut.

Sony, the electronics specialist, claimed second on 78.5 points, having recently announced it will join forces with Google to build TV sets which offer full access to the internet.

Walt Disney, the entertainment group, was third on 78 points, boosted by its strong bond with families which is engendered by its theme parks, merchandise and movie output.

BMW, the German automaker, took fourth on 77.8 points, with Daimler, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, closing out the top five on 76.8 points.

Apple was in sixth on 76.4 points, having also been named as one of the "most admired" and "most innovative" companies of the year thanks to pioneering devices such as the iPad and iPhone.

"Innovation is a powerful tool for reaching consumers," Kasper Nielsen, managing partner of the Reputation Institute, said.

Nokia, the telecoms provider, was in seventh on 76 points, followed by Ikea, the furniture chain, Volkswagen, the automaker, and Intel, the microchip manufacturer, all of which posted over 75 points.

Elsewhere, Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Philips all featured in the top 20, indicating that operators in the technology sector have proved effective at connecting with shoppers.

Johnson & Johnson was the consumer goods firm which achieved this goal most successfully, with L'Oréal, the French cosmetics company, and Procter & Gamble, the owner of Pampers, also delivering impressive figures.

In the food and beverage category, Barilla, Ferrero and Nestlé – all based in Europe – were joined by Coca-Cola, the soft drinks titan, and Carlsberg, the brewer, as the organisations which enjoyed particularly favourable feedback.

One of the other observable trends from the study was the absence of corporations headquartered in key emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

This was the case despite the fact that China Mobile, the pre-eminent Chinese mobile network, and ICICI, the Indian bank, were among the 100 most valuable brands identified by Millward Brown earlier this year.

By contrast, only established players from Asia, like Panasonic and Samsung, the electronics firms, Honda, the auto marque, and Singapore Airlines, the air carrier, made the Reputation Institute's list.

One reason for this gap between market value and consumer perception is that many brands in developing nations are either yet to expand abroad or are still relatively new entrants in other countries.

"Having a global reputation is really difficult, but future growth will come from international markets," Nielsen said. "Companies need to know how to build and trust outside of their own homes."

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff