LONDON: The reputation of companies operating in the UK has declined for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, according to a new study that suggests there has been a major drop in trust and confidence in UK brands over the past year.

Reputation Institute, a global corporate reputation consultancy, revealed in its UK RepTrak 150 rankings that consumers’ willingness to give brands the benefit of the doubt (27%) was down 13% compared with 2017.

The data, which is based on more than 31,000 ratings from UK consumers in the first quarter of 2018, also found an 11% year-on-year decline in the proportion of consumers saying something positive about a brand (37%).

And there also has been a 10% fall in consumers’ opinion about the investment activities of companies (24%) as well as trust that they would do the right thing (37%).

The report further revealed that UK consumers are becoming increasingly ‘neutral’ in their perception of corporate governance (67% versus 64% in 2017) and citizenship practices (74% versus 69%).

This is significant because perceptions of governance (17.2%) and citizenship (15.5%) are two qualities that Reputation Institute says have the biggest impact on a brand’s reputation apart from product and services (20.3%).

“Neutrality or uncertainty around companies’ governance and citizenship initiatives means that despite significant investment in this area, these programs and initiatives are not resonating with people,” said Harry Foster, Reputation Institute’s director of consulting.

“In addition, the growing perception is that companies are not communicating often, or providing sufficient information about what they are doing. It’s harder to stand out from the crowd, and harder to appear genuine about what you say and do”.

In support of his contention that brands in the UK are failing to communicate effectively, the report noted a 13% decline in the number of consumers who think brands provide sufficient information about its activities along with a 12% fall among those who think brands communicate often.

Turning to the overall rankings, the UK RepTrak named Swiss watchmaker Rolex as the best brand in the UK in terms of reputation.

Rolex overtook Lego Group, the Danish toymaker, to take the stop spot, with the rest of the top ten comprising Bosch, Dyson, Nintendo, Rolls-Royce Aerospace, Sony,, Samsung Electronics and The Walt Disney Company.

Sourced from Reputation Institute; additional content by WARC staff